The Wimbledon is in its final stages and like every year, it has been what one would usually perceive it to be, entertaining Tennis, interesting results, and a few royal pleasantries. The Wimbledon, however, is more than the 28 tons of strawberries, 10,000 liters of cream, and 320,000 glasses of Pimm's. The Championships at Wimbledon are in fact keeping up with the technology at every step possible. Something that is helping them turn the game into an enhanced spectacle.
Broadcasting remains an important feature for sports revenue and fan engagement. Wimbledon this year started off with a raft of new broadcast technology delivering coverage of The Championships. This year’s event marks the debut of Wimbledon Broadcast Services (WBS), which has taken over from the BBC as the new host broadcast operation of All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).WBS is providing multi-camera coverage of all 18 Championships courts for the first time, a net-cam on both Centre Court and No.1 Court, and coverage of Centre Court in 4K HDR. The number of custom-built galleries has almost doubled with 21 control rooms for the host broadcaster plus three for the Wimbledon Channel to serve the World Feed and archive.
Advanced Highlights reel:
The Championships at Wimbledon have been partners with IT giants IBM since 1990. IBM has been at the helm of a lot of Tech inventions with regards to Tennis, especially at the AELTC. IBM this time around has put its engineering to use, coming up with an advancement that automatically creates video highlights for the fans and players alike.
IBM tracks three variables: noise level, action recognition, and the crowd cheering, combining to generate an "overall excitement level” and generating highlight video clips of important or exciting moments. As it stands, a human editor is required to tease out video clips from more nuanced matches; the IBM software doesn't yet understand the context of individual matches or player pairings. A human editor with certain knowledge of the game might be able to pluck out the useful information, the information which could vary for fan and player viewing, something that possibly will be worked upon in the future.
In game Technology and data:
NetCam happens to be the evolution of the Globecam unit – a world leader in live, point-of-view miniature camera solutions that specializes in live sport. NetCam is currently being deployed on each side of the net to deliver audiences an unprecedented panorama of Wimbledon’s Centre and No.1 Courts during match play. In addition to improving the fan’s viewing experience, the miniature camera technology will also provide the players and officials with a unique net’s eye view of the on-court action.
The oldest and the most reliant in-game technology in Tennis has been the Hawk-Eye technology. It’s been in use within the sport since 2002. The Hawk-Eye has eased decision making for the officials on the court and has expectedly accelerated the pace of the game.
Wimbledon, along with IBM has super-computers in place that can deliver up-to-the-second match analysis. Approximately 3.2 million pieces of data are captured during the Wimbledon fortnight and are interpreted by a team of promising tennis players-turned-analysts. IBM’s operational centers are set up during Wimbledon that does the data related work. They translate the incoming data into newsworthy snippets of insight for commentators, media, and fans worldwide. With the All England Club in the past positioned as visionaries of using digital as a gateway for fan access, Wimbledon’s partnership with IBM Watson is huge and the partnership will only grow further given that its external partners and respective platforms do, too.
There remains a lot of scope for improvement on all ends of the technological spectrum. Other than Hawkeye, broadcasting in tennis hasn’t changed much compared to other sports, an area that has huge potential and could take Tennis to further spaces.
Wimbledon has shown great promise with social media integration and standout traditional broadcasting options. The fans are getting closer to the sport year-on-year. With a plethora of new technologies in development, a lot could happen over the next few years in the sport. One thing that remains a certainty is that Wimbledon will be working to make sure tennis, in an English garden, lives on through various mediums.