Watson Football

IBM Upgrades Watson as Customized ESPN Fantasy Football Aide

IBM’s Watson AI has upped its fantasy sports game to customize the experience for those participating through the ESPN Fantasy App. Fantasy football players will be able to use Watson to get better trade advice and adjust their trade preferences, including analytics to explain why Watson is making those recommendations.

Coach Watson

Trading with the AI began last year when IBM and ESPN debuted the Trade Assistant with Watson tool. The idea was to make fantasy football more accessible and fun, especially for those without the head for statistics to engage fully with the hobby. The AI offers ideas for trades, and judges proposed trades to determine the fairness of the offer. The upgrade simply makes the interactions with the AI much more individualized based on the user and gives more explanations to enhance the experience. For instance, users can give Watson more of an insight into their plans and goals by making lists of players they are looking to get, players they are willing to trade or not trade, and the positions they are willing to trade. The new No Brainer trade suggestion tool is specifically for those who are very new to fantasy football, spotting big issues with their lineups in terms of missing players and positions.

“IBM’s technologies help to make ESPN Fantasy Football more interactive for our fans and differentiated from other products,” Disney Fantasy sports product management senior director Chris Jason said. “Players of all levels can use the IBM Trade Assistant and Player Insights tools to make more informed decisions and better compete against their friends, which creates a more engaging experience.”

Sports AI

The fantasy sports stage isn’t Watson’s only experiment in combining AI and entertainment statistics. Watson hosted and curated music debates for the Recording Academy before the most recent Grammy Awards, using its analytical ability to pick out the best arguments in all kinds of musical debates. Watson did the same when analyzing the Bloomberg Television show “That’s Debatable” last year. Even Watson’s civic and enterprise services rely on the same AI foundation.

“Our innovations within the ESPN Fantasy App reflect the work we do with clients all over the world. IBM Watson is helping make sense of complex data, and creating interactive, customizable experiences using AI and cloud technology,” IBM vice president of sports and entertainment partnerships Noah Syken said in a statement. “The same technologies in the Fantasy Football app that explain trades can also help streamline complexities, improve workflows and engage customers for businesses of all sizes.”

Sports has its own power and huge financial base, however. That’s why Amazon made Alexa a kind of Premier League football referee. People in the UK can ask the voice assistant for any rule from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) Laws of the Game. The additional knowledge was added after more than 2,000 fans responded to a study by Prime Video by saying they wanted help in grasping the details of how the game works. A few years ago, Alexa even published a skill in a partnership with sports conversational AI developer StatMuse that offers insight from ESPN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst Matthew Berry. The draw of fantasy sports and the ongoing improvements in AI suggest Watson will have plenty of other AIs around competing in sports statistics.


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