The prestigious Wimbledon tournament is set to introduce artificial intelligence-powered commentary in July.
All England Club has tapped tech giant IBM's Watsonx AI platform to create audio commentary and captions for its video highlight packages. Watsonx is the company's enterprise AI and data platform. According to IBM's the platform has been trained in the “unique language of tennis.”
The All England Club's relationship with AI is not entirely new, as the club currently uses IBM's technology to generate its player power index. The index is one of the tools used to analyze how a tennis player is performing on the court.
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Tennis fans will have access to the innovative video packages when they log onto the Wimbledon app or the tournament's official website.
During periods of the tournament when a real human is not available to provide commentary, the AI-powered technology is expected to step in and produce captions for some videos.
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“I see AI as very much complementing the human element, rather than replacing,” IBM's Kevin Farrar said. “You can't replace John McEnroe doing commentary. That human element always needs to be there. It's very much supplementing and complementing.”
GameOn Technology CEO Alex Beckman, an expert in the AI space, said the method in which Wimbledon plans to implement the technology into this year's tournament has a proven track record of enhancing engagement.
“Using artificial intelligence to bring highlights to fans …we have a lot of experience and evidence that catering to the end user, using AI to deliver highlights, does increase engagement in a really fantastic way.” Beckman told Fox News Digital.
“We (GameOn Technology) see a 400 percent increase in engagement when with our NBA videos and highlights from people watching the NBA playoffs at home through chat and the use of personalization. There's 27% click-through rates across ticketing when you combine AI and highlights. In a format like social (media) you can see higher engagement rates and happier fans having better experiences.”
The AI-powered analysis will also be used to “uncover anomalies” and anticipate “potential surprises” as it determines the likelihood of a particular player advancing to the tournament's singles final.
“This new insight will help tennis fans to uncover anomalies and potential surprises in the singles draw, which would not be apparent by looking only at the players’ ranking,” IBM said in a statement.
IBM's platform will also aggregate data that will be fed into a chatbot system. The chatbot will then create tennis-style commentary.
Last month, the French Open used AI in an effort to create a better experience for athletes and fans.
“We see what happened in the French Open and what IBM is doing at Wimbledon has really been great uses of AI to make the fan experience richer,” Beckman noted.
IBM said the move is a possible step towards generating AI commentary on full matches in the future.
“For Wimbledon, it's about providing commentary in the future on matches that don't currently have human commentary,” Farrar said. “It's not based on a specific person or an individual and their style. You can see in the future that you could train it in specific styles, languages, voices. So this is a step on that journey.”
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Beckman also said GameOn Technology always has the future in mind. The company previously created a chatbot called “Trash Talk with Gary Payton” which allowed hundreds of thousands of people to simultaneously chat with the NBA legend.
“Thinking about the future of broadcast and letting people who love a sport be able to be a broadcaster for that sport using their likeness and using AI to create a better version of that in the future,” Beckman said.