Wimbledon Picks IBM’s Generative AI to Handle Tennis Commentary
This year’s Wimbledon tennis championship will include a generative AI commentator built by IBM. The company’s ‘watsonx’ AI will share insights during the video highlights packages produced during the tennis tournament, including new kinds of tennis statistics.
IBM is releasing watsonx (deliberately uncapitalized) on the Wimbledon app and website. Tennis fans will hear the AI expound on the most important moments of the matches in the video highlight reels, with captions available for those who’d rather read the comments. IBM Wimbledon organizers, The All England Club, are pitching watsonx’s presence at the tennis tournament as a way to widen the commentary on tennis beyond the main courts, usually the only ones with live humans commentating.
The commentary on the video will also draw on the IBM AI Draw Analysis feature, enabling the AI to analyze the likely success of each player in the singles draw, a first for tennis statistics. Each player’s favorability is rated based on potential opponents and their position in the draw, making it easier to highlight when there’s an upset or other unusual events in a game.
“We are constantly innovating with our partners at IBM to provide Wimbledon fans, wherever they are in the world, with an insightful and engaging digital experience of The Championships,” The All England Club marketing and commercial director Usama Al-Qassab said. “This year, we’re introducing new features for our digital platforms that use the latest AI technology from IBM to help fans gain even more insight into the singles draw and access commentary on a wider variety of matches through our match highlights videos.”
Synthetic sports commentary has begun to grow in popularity as AI capabilities have become better understood. The most recent World Cup saw voice AI provider Veritone creating a voice clone of sports commentator and former professional soccer (football) player Alan Smith’s to translate his insights into multiple languages. Smith’s commentary was reproduced using Opta Voice, a tool created by Veritone and sports tech and data firm Stats Perform. The Wimbledon commentary continues IBM’s experiments combining AI with sports and pop culture analysis. Watson has served ESPN fantasy football players in coming up with trading suggestions. Watson has also curated music debates for the Recording Academy before the Grammy Awards a couple of years ago and even provided analytics and commentary for the Bloomberg Television show “That’s Debatable.”
“IBM is bringing new layers of insight and engagement to the 2023 Championships through the use of innovative new tools, powered by foundation models and generative AI from watsonx,” IBM senior vice president of marketing and communications Jonathan Adashek said. “We’ve seen first-hand how these technologies have the power to help major sporting events like Wimbledon to grow their audiences through outstanding digital experiences. The AI and data platform that IBM is using to create unique fan experiences for Wimbledon is the same technology that we’re using to drive business transformation with clients across all sectors and industries.”