Noah Syken of IBM on leveraging AI & computing technology and Overwatch League & US Open partnerships

IBM has delivered digital experiences for some of the world’s most iconic event like Wimbledon, US Open, GRAMMYs among others. IBM recently partnered Overwatch League, global esports league with 20 city-based teams recently to bring IBM’s cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to esports. The Playknox spoke with Noah Syken, Vice President, Sports and Entertainment Partnerships, IBM to know more. Excerpts:


How is IBM tackling COVID-19 challenges with most live sports being cancelled?

COVID-19 has certainly impacted how fans engage with and consume sports. IBM is always looking for ways to enhance fans’ experience in sports across our partnerships with the likes of the US Open (tennis), Wimbledon and The Masters. Wimbledon was cancelled this year, and we worked with the All England Lawn and Tennis Club to create Wimbledon’s first-ever digital tournament, “The Greatest Championships 2020” – featuring remastered and enhanced footage along with data-rich experiences that use the power of Artificial Intelligence to bring to life past Wimbledon matches from over the years. This was a new way of recreating historic content and engaging with fans.

Another recent example comes from the US Open tennis tournament, where the tournament was reconfigured to move forward, but without fans onsite the for the first time. of how IBM helped enhance the fan experience is at this year’s U.S. Open with the introduction of three unique and new tennis-based digital experiences including virtual sports debates, hyper-relevant match insights using IBM Watson and AI Sounds, underpinned by an open hybrid cloud architecture.


Why did IBM decide to foray into esports? Tell us more about your partnership with Activision Blizzard for the Overwatch League.

Esports is one of the fastest growing and most popular sports in the world. Through the course of the deal, IBM and the Overwatch League will use IBM’s suite of advanced cloud and AI products to enhance experiences for fans, players and broadcasters. The deal is a new way of showcasing our technology in the sports and entertainment world.



Tell us about your other recent partnerships

IBM has been a long-time partner to a range of sports organizations, teams, and events, including tennis (US Open and Wimbledon), golf (The Masters), football (via ESPN Fantasy Football), and the GRAMMY Awards. Through these strategic partnerships, including IBM’s new engagement with the Overwatch League, IBM is able to help reimagine sports and entertainment experiences for fans, players and coaches alike – leveraging the flexibility of the hybrid cloud, and other AI-powered solutions.


Do you think AI & cloud computing are the future of sport industry?

Absolutely. IBM’s AI and cloud technology can help users make smarter, more informed decisions. A perfect example is the new Trade Assistant with IBM Watson through our partnership with ESPN Fantasy Football. Trade Assistant with IBM Watson is designed to reduce the complexities of fantasy football trades by suggesting trades that assess the fairness and value of a proposed trade – helping fantasy football players make smarter, more informed decisions.


What is the marketing and branding strategy of IBM Sports and Entertainment?

IBM delivers the digital experience for some of the world’s most iconic events, showcasing the power of the IBM cloud and IBM’s Watson AI technology to millions of fans. IBM has developed five strategic tenets for sports and entertainment organizations: understand market disruption, learn from media and entertainment businesses, deliver unparalleled digital fan experiences, adopt the right fan engagement technologies, and secure enterprise capabilities.

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