Personalised Match Summaries And Enhanced Fan Engagement: IBM And Wimbledon launch 'Catch Me Up' Gen AI

Personalised Match Summaries And Enhanced Fan Engagement: IBM And Wimbledon launch ‘Catch Me Up’ Gen AI

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By Dinis Guarda

IBM and Wimbledon introduce the "Catch Me Up" feature, using watsonx Generative AI to enhance the digital experience for tennis fans. The tech-enabled feature provides personalised match summaries, allowing fans to stay updated with key storylines, player updates, and match highlights according to their preferences.

IBM watsonx at Wimbledon (Image Credits: IBM/Wimbledon)

Wimbledon and IBM launch new generative AI technology that will allow them to cover more stories and serve a wider audience. The feature is powered by IBM’s watsonx AI platform and the company’s Granite large language model (LLM), which has access to Wimbledon’s treasure trove of data and has been trained in the tournament’s editorial style.

AI is increasingly being implemented and changing the sports experiences and industry. Billions of people share their passions for sports and AI as something being integrated into our daily lives is becoming a powerful tool for sports organisations and sports personalities, sports organisations and federations and sports practitioners and of course their fans. 

Tennis is the 4th most famous sports modality in the world. Bearing that in mind is a big audience of 1.2 billion people and AI and related tech are increasingly being integrated into multiple dimensions of sports. 

For two weeks every year in July, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) organisation hosts Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament in the sport. IBM has been partnering with the club for more than three decades, enhancing coverage of the championships and engaging fans with rich data-driven insights. This year, some of the most compelling stories of the tournament will be told powered by IBM® watsonx™, the enterprise-ready generative AI platform.

Enhancing Wimbledon’s digital experience

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and IBM are expanding their use of generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) at this year’s Wimbledon, using the technology to create automated, personalised catchup summaries across the tournament’s digital channels.

‘Catch Me Up’ generates pre- and post-match player cards with AI-generated player stories containing key statistics and match highlights, as well as longer-form daily summaries of the day’s action.

Gen AI was first introduced at last year’s tournament when it was used to create automated spoken word commentary for its highlights, and the AELTC and IBM believe the technology can help them cover more matches and serve diverse audiences, complementing their existing coverage.

So, this service is offering a very quick and easy way to come in and pick up on what those key storylines are that are relevant to you and to make sure that you’re aware of what’s going on. The top seed and the show courts, of course, get a lot of coverage. But there’s a lot of tennis going on across 18 courts over the two weeks, which means not all the stories get told,” added Kevin Farrar, head of sports partnerships at IBM and the company’s lead for the Wimbledon partnership.

 

The ‘Catch Me Up’ feature is powered by IBM's watsonx, ‘Catch Me Up’ (Image Credit: IBM/Wimbledon)

IBM watsonx technology for sports

Wimbledon will also use Gen AI to provide greater coverage of more matches, including wheelchair events, with watsonx also being used to provide bullet point-based previews and post-match reviews for singles events on IBM Slamtracker.

The tennis Grand Slam has used AI across its digital operations for several years. Intelligent algorithms create data-driven metrics designed to engage fans across the tournament’s platforms, while video highlights are created using computer and audio recognition technology.

Gen AI was first introduced at last year’s tournament when it was used to create automated spoken word commentary for its highlights, and the AELTC and IBM believe the technology can help them cover more matches and serve diverse audiences, complementing their existing coverage.

Personalised fan engagement: 'Catch Me Up' feature powered by Generative AI

The "Catch Me Up" feature at Wimbledon, designed in collaboration with IBM, uses advanced generative AI to provide timely player updates, highlight key storylines, and engage audiences. Powered by IBM's watsonx technology, the information is written in the tone of Wimbledon, maintaining authenticity and reliability from official data sources. 

There’s an awful lot happening during the Championships, especially early on in the tournament, and although we’d all love to spend all day, every day watching everything on three screens, that’s not possible for everyone,” Chris Clements, digital products lead at the AELTC, told about the project.

The feature is powered by IBM’s AI and data platform, watsonx, and the company’s Granite large language model (LLM), which has access to Wimbledon’s treasure trove of data and has been trained in the tournament’s editorial style. watsonx integrates effortlessly with Wimbledon's operations, providing regulatory compliance and data integrity

Catch Me Up is IBM and Wimbledon’s latest generative AI innovation to personalise and enhance fan enagagement (Image credit: IBM/Wimbledon)

The AI model is trained solely on tennis data, taking into account aspects such as the possibility of winning based on substantial historical data. It combines structured data, such as match statistics, with unstructured data, like news and opinions, to create dynamic content and data visualisation tools. The result is interesting player narratives created in collaboration with AI and human expertise, which improves the overall Wimbledon experience.

The top seed and the show courts, of course, get a lot of coverage. But there’s a lot of tennis going on across 18 courts over the two weeks, which means not all the stories get told,” said Kevin Farrar, head of sports partnerships at IBM and the company’s lead for the Wimbledon partnership.

The new feature displays pre-match analysis of recent performance and likelihood to win predictions, and post-match will include key statistics and highlights - available via wimbledon.com and the Wimbledon 2024 App

Gen AI has attracted the attention of plenty within the sports industry, but several implementations have been gimmicky, ineffective or haven’t been Gen AI at all. Given both Wimbledon and IBM claim to only innovate if they can provide genuine value to fans, and not just for the sake of it, the rest of the industry should be paying attention to its latest application of the technology.

The tournament’s expanded use should also be interpreted as evidence of Gen AI’s maturity, with many properties now using it across their editorial, customer service, marketing, operational and sporting activities.

The player cards will be based on individual user preferences, location and other data related to their user profile, such as favourite players.

Shaping the future of sports using 'Catch Me Up'

The Catch Me Up feature saves the Wimbledon editorial team hours and frees them up to write more engaging stories and manage higher-value tasks. Behind the scenes, the process begins by collecting a huge volume of data from player rankings and momentum to games and sets played. This structured and unstructured data is managed by IBM® watsonx.data™, a data store built on an open lake house architecture that enables flexible, scalable access by applications across the Club’s hybrid cloud servers. Using a model trained and tuned in IBM® watsonx.ai™, the generative AI application extracts and summarises relevant data and generates stories in natural language, adapted to Wimbledon’s style and tone of voice. The workflow is managed and monitored using IBM® watsonx.governance™ to deliver reliable, integrated performance.

We want to be able to bring that to life and Gen AI is helping us do that. It opens the door to creating stories for the junior, senior, under-14 and wheelchair tournaments. There might be great stories unfolding but the content team might not have the capacity to cover them. This is about complementing the output of humans", says Kevin Ferrar, Head of IBM's sports partnerships.

When asked by SportsPro how far away fans were from being able to demand personalised video highlights packages, IBM’s sports partnerships head, Kevin Farrar, said: 

I think it’s going to come, it’s technically possible but there is still a lot of ongoing work in that space. There’s some exciting possibilities and there is a push for more content that provides a more personalised experience.”

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