Tennis fans who watch the US Open in person or around the world on TVs, PCs or smartphones might not be aware of all the sophisticated technology behind the two-week professional tennis event. Since 1990, IBM has worked with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to to provide a richer technology experience for millions who visit the US Open’s digital platforms worldwide – as well as the media, coaches and players. This year we’re using the latest in cloud, data analytics, mobile and social technology for an even better fan experience, which tennis fans demand, year-after-year.
More than 700,000 attendees stream through the gates each year at the USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens, making the US Open the most well-attended, multi-day annual sports event in the world. We capture, analyze, publish, store, monitor and secure the historical and real-time data for tennis fans, who never tire of even more data. Our solutions span digital platforms, which include the web and mobile apps and incorporate integrated content management, live scoring systems, real-time and historical data analysis tools – all supported by a cloud infrastructure. The data and insights generated on the tennis courts are distributed around the USTA’s grounds and around the globe in seconds.
In 2014, there were more than 15.7 million unique visitors to www.usopen.org, or the highest total ever, up 24 percent from 2013. There were also more than 58.7 million visits, or the highest total ever, up 9 percent from 2013.
Data analytics at the US Open provide greater insights for players, coaches, broadcasters and fans. IBM SlamTracker goes beyond scores to analyze real-time and historical player, match and championship data. SlamTracker’s “Keys to the Match” analyze eight years of Grand Slam tennis data – or 41 million data points – to identify the three key strategies that could affect a particular match for each player, such as which player would likely benefit from longer points.
We’ve also incorporated ball and player position data into SlamTracker for real-time match analysis, tracking not only where the ball lands, but also how far the players run. This additional data adds a new dimension to match analysis, uncovering more patterns and deeper insight into player and match dynamics.
This year embedded social sentiment data has been added into SlamTracker, providing an analysis of Twitter conversations about players while they are on court. Just as fans in the stadium get a sense of the crowd favorite based upon how loud the cheering is, SlamTracker’s social sentiment feature offers a window into fan sentiment on Twitter. New in 2015, a Social Share feature in SlamTracker will allow fans to share SlamTracker insights via Facebook.
Access from mobile devices is more important each year: 55 percent of all page views came from a mobile device 2014. In addition to the mobile apps, USOpen.org is available in a mobile-friendly format for web-enabled smartphones and tablets. IBM has developed apps for iPhone and Android platforms. The US Open iPad app provides an interactive second-screen experience for those fans watching the Open on television or online.
The cloud supporting the USOpen.org digital platform shares resources with the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, U.S. Open Golf, The Masters Tournament, Tony Awards and IBM.com. This hybrid cloud includes three private cloud locations, as well as public cloud locations, powered by SoftLayer. Before adoption of a hybrid cloud, adding an application to the digital platform was a labor-intensive operation that included server procurement, installation, and manual configuration. The new technology makes it simple to add a workload to the cloud platform within minutes.
The USTA’s mission is to promote the game of tennis and our challenge has been to use the latest technology to help achieve this goal. The speed of access to critical business data and the ability to analyze it quickly is key to allow businesses to stand out. Lessons learned at the US Open and our other sports sponsorships are used by clients in many, many industries to help transform their businesses.
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