Case Study: Wimbledon 2015

AELTC Revolutionizes How Sporting Events Are Shared

  • 71 million visits to wimbledon.com

01

Executive Summary

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) used IBM Analytics to automate event discovery during Wimbledon, allowing them to post news online before any competitors

To keep tennis fans engaged with its coverage of The Championships 2015, the AELTC wanted to use real-time match data to attract fans’ attention and encourage them to visit its digital platforms. Real-time analysis of match data instantly notifies the AELTC’s content team about key events such as record serves or career milestones, helping them break news online before competitors can react.

IBM Analytics gave us the power to break the big stories first, driving greater fan engagement.

Alexandra Willis

Head of Digital and Content, AELTC

02

Introduction

Known to millions of fans as “Wimbledon”, The Championships is the oldest of tennis’ four Grand Slams

It’s one of the world’s highest-profile sporting events. Organized by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) it has been a global sporting and cultural institution since 1877. Each year, the AELTC aims to ensure that The Championships at Wimbledon is the best tennis tournament in the world, and that its own digital platforms provide the best coverage.

03

Challenge

To measure the success of its digital strategy, the AELTC set a target of attracting more than 70 million visits to the wimbledon.com site in 2015

Alexandra Willis, Head of Digital and Content at the AELTC, comments: “To persuade fans to follow The Championships via our site and apps, we wanted to help them share the moments that mattered during the tournament as they happened.

“Unlike other media organizations, our team has direct access to live match data from each of the courts – we wanted to turn this to our advantage by getting the data to help us trace the narratives of the tournament in real time.”

04

Solution

IBM Analytics helps the AELTC collect and visualize data from past and present to give their content team the edge in breaking new stories

During the Wimbledon fortnight, 48 courtside experts capture approximately 3.4 million data-points, tracking the type of shots and the outcome of each point. This data is used to generate player and match statistics, before being published on IBM SlamTracker®, an intuitive visualization tool which is integrated into the AELTC’s digital platforms.

By feeding data on previous matches into IBM SPSS® Modeler, IBM is also able to generate “Keys to the Match” for each player – a set of predictions that if a player achieves certain goals, such as winning more than 70 percent of points on first serve, or more than 50 percent of medium rallies, they will defeat their opponent. These keys can then be compared to the live statistics during each set, to give the audience an idea of whether the player is on track to win.

For example, in the 2015 Ladies’ Singles final, Serena Williams achieved all three of her keys in both sets, while Garbine Muguruza hit none of hers during the first set, and only one during the second. The result of the match was a comfortable straight-sets victory for Williams.

This year, for the first time, IBM also fed live match data into IBM Streams, which enabled a new real-time notification capability. The system matched the incoming data with each player’s previous record at Wimbledon, and automatically pushed notifications to the AELTC’s content team whenever a new record was set or a milestone was about to be reached.

For example, on day one, Lleyton Hewitt hit his 1,500th winner at Wimbledon; within seconds, the content team was able to publish a tweet that put his achievement in context as one of The Championships’ “Grass Court Greats”.

The clever part is that the streaming tool didn’t just notify us when he hit the 1,500th winner – it gave us early warning when he had hit his 1,497th,” says Alexandra Willis. That gave our content team time to put together a story around the data, and break the news, both faster and with more impact than any of our competitors.

A similar technique was used to analyze data from the on-court serve speed measurement system. Each time a player served the ball, the system was able to compare it with their previous fastest serves in real time, and alert the media team about any new personal bests or records.

For example, when Sam Groth hit a 147mph serve on day six – the second-fastest ever at Wimbledon – the media team was able to publish a series of tweets almost instantly, including links to video highlights that drove more traffic to the wimbledon.com site.

Solution Components

  • IBM Streams
  • IBM SPSS Modeler
  • IBM Emerging Technology Services
  • IBM Global Business Services

Additionally, for previous finalists, the solution was able to compare current match statistics with their record from previous tournaments. For example, if Novak Djokovic’s second serve rate was sufficiently higher or lower during the 2015 tournament than in 2014, when he last reached the final, the content team would be informed, and could use this data to enrich their articles and social media output.

05

Results

The AELTC transformed their content creation process and drove more than 71 million visits to wimbledon.com

Real-time notifications are sparking a transformation in the AELTC content team’s workflow. Instead of trying to guess which matches are likely to yield interesting stories by monitoring them closely and looking up statistics, the team can now rely on the system to alert them when a newsworthy event occurs on any of the 19 courts.

Alexandra Willis concludes: “Having a system that can push relevant notifications as they happen is hugely valuable. When a milestone is coming up, we can make sure we have someone on the scene to capture the action for our fans.

By acting on these insights at this year’s Championships, we were able to break the biggest stories first, and drive even greater fan engagement with wimbledon.com – helping us exceed our target with more than 71 million visits.

Wimbledon is a proving ground for leading-edge IBM technologies that have the potential to transcend any industry. In particular, the ability to collect data as quickly as it is generated, but also to compare it with historical data, perform calculations, and trigger alerts, has interesting implications beyond the world of tennis.

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