Seeds tumble: how Wimbledon uses cognitive analytics

Chris NottSeeds have been tumbling out of The Championships, Wimbledon in the latter part of the first week of this year’s tournament.  With so much going on it is important for Wimbledon to understand what interests fans at any point in time so that it can communicate to them with relevance and authenticity through its own and social digital platforms.

Cognitive social analytics

Many seeds were beaten on the first Thursday of the tournament and most conversations on social media concerning Wimbledon were about those players who had won and lost.  However IBM’s Cognitive Social Command Centre also highlighted an emerging topic of conversation about Viktor Troicki.  His on court outburst put him second on the trending topics list to Andy Murray during that afternoon highlighting a topic for Wimbledon to consider.  The Cognitive Social Command Centre maintains a current view of the emerging topics and whether they are in the ascendency or declining in interest.

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Wimbledon’s digital and content team is able to use the Cognitive Social Command Centre to see content from the social conversations that is driving the interest in such topics.  It can then develop its own digital content and share it socially as part of its wider desire to attract a younger demographic.

IBM’s Cognitive Social Command Centre understands, reasons and learns across multiple social channels.  It takes less data to derive the insight when compared with traditional programming approaches used to develop rules to extract meaning from text.

It is implemented on IBM Bluemix using a number of the Watson cognitive APIs.  The Natural Language Classifier decides if social media content is about Wimbledon, players or other sports.  This API is trained making it more adaptable to unexpected and changing content.  Then other Watson APIs help to understand what the content is about and analyse it for sentiment, for example.

Breaking match facts

One other system that offers Wimbledon first mover advantage on its digital platforms is a real-time notifications system that generates alerts on breaking match facts as play unfolds.  It can highlight that a player is about reach an important milestone giving Wimbledon time to prepare content in time for the actual event.  It also indicates potential match upsets, such as this alert on Friday evening suggesting that the number 1 men’s seed, Novak Djokovic might be in trouble.

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Earlier on in the week, Wimbledon shared Roger Federer’s achievement of winning his 4,000th point in The Championships.  IBM counted every single one.

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Wimbledon is able to use the Cognitive Social Command Centre to monitor the level of fan engagement for content that it has shared on social platforms.  Furthermore it can scale up and down depending on the volume of social media traffic because it runs on Bluemix on IBM’s public cloud.

Harness interest in other sports

Wimbledon coincides with other sporting events this year, e.g. Euro 2016.  The Cognitive Social Command Centre is being continually enhanced during The Championships to learn and understand wider conversations.  This presents opportunities for Wimbledon to create articles, posts and imagery that is linked to common topics of interest.  For example, after the Czech Republic was eliminated from Euro 2016, Petr Cech was pictured as a ball boy in a training session at Wimbledon.

Wimbledon is able to see what is engaging fans by having multiple social media channels all in one view.  By using cognitive solutions, Wimbledon is able to easily identify, interpret and act on emerging conversations and link them to news stories.  It can do so rapidly and in the moment as the story is developing and stand out from the crowd.

Follow your favourite players

Follow your favourite tennis players at this year’s tournament by downloading the Wimbledon mobile app or at

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