Last year at Wimbledon 14.4m video highlights, including Rodger Federer’s eighth title win, views were produced without human intervention. It can be a head-scrambling process at Wimbledon to keep an eye on 18 tennis courts, all simultaneously featuring action, and trying to piece together the most interesting bits.

SwissCognitiveSo how did Wimbledon’s digital channels command 69.9 million views last year, plus 436 million page views (up from 395 million in 2016)? Either the production staff are inhumanely eagle-eyed or another key factor is at play. The Wimbledon Cognitive Highlights Solution, developed by the event’s long-standing technology partner IBM, is a ground-breaking form of Artificial Intelligence that analyses thousands of minutes of match action to create high-quality video content at a remarkable speed and efficiency.

“Wimbledon have been huge innovators for a long time. This is about the engagement of fans,” said Paul Ryan, director of Watson, the technology responsible for this transformative way of working. “Cognitive highlights – how do you rapidly generate relevant and engaging content for fans based on the game in real-time?”

Watson asks questions, discerns patterns, reveals insights and finds answers, according to IBM. A cognitive computing platform, the real brilliance behind Watson is how it compliments the human involvement, rather than trying to replace it. “It is technology that senses and experiences the world in the same way that humans do – through language, images, sentiment and emotions,” Ryan explained.

“Watson isn’t programmed – it is trained and it learns, like humans do. “We train Watson to watch tennis and understand the moments in a match that make for emotionally engaging highlights. Watson can sense drama and intensity, and reconcile that with the score and statistical data. “Very quickly, Watson can curate those moments into highlight videos which allows Wimbledon’s creative teams to work much more quickly, rather than mundanely look through footage of the many courts.”

It is having a major impact. Last year at Wimbledon 14.4 million net new highlights video views were produced without human intervention. The quantity of highlights packages created since 2016 soared by 252 per cent. The team around this technology beam most proudly, however, when they explain that a person’s turnaround time to create these packages was reduced from an hour to 15 minutes with Watson’s help. Improving workflow, rather than revolutionising it, is the key message.  […]