IT in the sports industry

Wimbledon to analyse social interactions at tennis championship

Caroline Baldwin

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) at Wimbledon will be analysing social interactions to gain insights into the famous tennis championship that begins next week.

By analysing social engagement with Wimbledon in real time, the club claims it will be able to understand key topics, recognise social influencers online and in turn update the Wimbledon.com website in-line with fans’ interests.

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“We continue to look for new ways to innovate and strengthen our leadership position in the sports industry, and one of the ways we will do this is by delivering content and information about the championships to fans in the way that they want to consume it, no matter where they are,” said Mick Desmond, commercial director at AELTC.

“In 2013 we refreshed our brand,” added Desmond. “We redesigned the website and moved away from the rigid infrastructure. While a lot of people were visiting the site, we wanted them to stay for longer.”

Alexandra Willis, content and communications manager at AELTC, said that while mobile continues to grow year-on-year, the website is still very important to the club and is part of its core offerings, with it receiving 19.7m unique visitors and 430m page views during the championship last year.

“What’s most important is that we stay true to our brand in everything we’re doing,” she said.

The club now has a suite of platforms, including the redesigned website, iOS and Android applications, and a strong social media presence, which has seen exponential growth of 100% year-on-year from 2012 to 2013.

With its partner IBM, Wimbledon will be able to tailor its interactions with fans using a new Social Command Center powered by IBM SoftLayer cloud technology. The platform will allow the Wimbledon content team to understand and respond to fans’ needs in real time, by analysing social media conversations taking place during the fortnight. The content team will also be able to use this data to tailor the content that appears on the website.

This year the club will be introducing a new social media experience call The Hill versus The World, which intends to compare the social voice of people attending Wimbledon and sitting on the hallowed Henman Hill, to the rest of the world watching elsewhere.

Last year, Wimbledon introduced social sentiment analysis, to enable fans to gauge how popular Andy Murray is in different parts of the UK.

This is the 25th year Wimbledon has partnered with the supplier and the two have also redesigned the Wimbledon mobile fan experience, and simplified the SlamTracker analytics platform in time for this year’s games.

IBM currently provides 48 tennis analysts throughout the competition who collate data in near real time for broadcasters, including the BBC as well as the SlamTracker platform. This year, IBM’s data analytics will be quantifying aggressive shots from players for the first time.

 


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