IBM extends US Open backing

Multinational technology company IBM has renewed its sponsorship of the US Open tennis event and has launched its Watson Media platform at this year’s edition of the grand slam tournament to enhance broadcast coverage.

The length of the new agreement was not disclosed but the VentureBeat website reported that IBM has signed a five-year deal with the United States Tennis Association, which organises the tournament.

The US Open will use Watson Media’s Cognitive Highlights solution to identify the most important moments of matches and select which incidents should be used for highlights coverage.

The system considers match data, crowd noises and player reactions before ranking the shots from seven US Open courts and auto-curating highlights packages.

The USTA will post a Highlight of the Day, as ranked by Watson, on its official page on social media platform Facebook. Fans that ‘favourite’ players on official US Open apps will also receive real-time push notification alerts about those players’ highlights.

Video highlights will be made available across all of the USTA’s digital platforms on the player bio page, and on-site in the players’ lounge and the fan-facing IBM Watson Experience zone.

In addition, IBM will seek to enhance the fan experience at this year’s US Open by incorporating a Cognitive Concierge feature into the tournament app’s Guest Info tab, which will answer supporters’ questions about the event.

Further technology solutions implemented by IBM at the US Open include SlamTracker, a tool used to analyse player and ball position data; IBM Cloud, which helps the USTA scale up in public cloud locations and/or private cloud locations; Watson for Cyber Security, which aids security analysts’ protection of the tournament’s digital platforms; and the digital platforms themselves.

Noah Syken, vice-president of sports and entertainment partnerships at IBM, said: “The US Open is packed with so much action across so many courts that even the fastest video team is challenged to keep pace with what’s happening.

“To meet that challenge, Watson is now watching the matches alongside the USTA to help bring fans closer to the best moments across the courts shortly after they happen. We’re seeing this technology come to life through tennis, but the entire IBM Watson Media portfolio has the potential to impact many industries.”

IBM has been a partner of the USTA for 28 years. This year’s US Open began in New York on Monday and runs until September 10.