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CHANGING THE GAME: Why tennis is using data driven visualisations to attract & engage the next generation of sports fan

Updated: Jun 21

Sportradar 4Sight in use at ATP Tour

As the ATP Tour arrives in London for this week’s Queen’s Championship, Sportradar’s Patrick Mostboeck, SVP Fan Engagement, explains how the sports technology company is using its technological expertise to attract new audiences to the sport.

I read an interesting article recently that observed the average age of a tennis fan to be 61 years. That’s not entirely surprising to me given that sport has acknowledged the need to engage the next generation of fans. However, in today’s distraction economy, rights holders find themselves competing with a multitude of entertainment services and content providers for the attention of

Millennials and Gen Z.

Gen Z in particular are notoriously difficult to engage. With shorter attention spans and an abundance of snackable content at their disposal, we find that GenZ are less likely to watch traditional sports events because they’re too long,instead favouring to watch game highlights on social media, or follow individual athletes for the information they need.

While I believe this is particularly true of tennis, there is active change underway in the sport. Through Sportradar’s multi-year agreement with Tennis Data Innovations (TDI), a specialist joint venture vehicle of the ATP and ATP Media, we’re driving innovation within tennis. As TDI / the ATP look to realise the full

value of their commercial right, there’s a big focus on attracting new audiences to their sport and retaining fan interest for longer periods of time.

A significant part of this transformation is levelling-up how tennis is visualised to audiences worldwide. Broadcasts of live tennis matches have remained largely the same for the best part of two decades, but the application of Sportradar’s 4Sight streaming technology across ATP 1000 events like Indian Wells, Madrid, and Rome, for example, is set to change how fans experience and engage with

the sport now and in the future.

If you’re not familiar with Sportradar 4Sight, it’s a streaming technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to process deep ATP data and produce insights that give meaning to what’s happening in a match.

Sportradar 4Sight in use at ATP Tour

These insights are then animated and appear as a feature within a live stream.The whole process is automated and takes place at ultra-low latency, delivering real-time insights to views. By incorporating these contextually relevant insights into a live stream, we’re enriching the viewing experience and helping tennis fans to achieve a deeper understanding of what’s happening in a game, what’s likely to happen and why that’s important.

For the TDI / ATP, it’s the data driven insights delivered through 4Sight that will fuel engagement with the next generation of sports fans. Gen Z is the first generation of sports fans to have access to deep data across a range of sports. They find significance in stories conveyed by statistics and dive into the details about players and performance, which increases their attachment to a sport.

And that’s why 4Sight is such a critical component in the transformation of the tennis. The depth of real-time data our technology is capable of visualising allows for richer storytelling. Take speed metrics as an example. Speed metrics are an integral part of the game – the speed of a serve is talked about by commentators and fans, and some players in the men’s game, like Mark Philippoussis and Andy

Roddick come to mind, define themselves over this aspect of their game.

In addition to measuring the speed of a serve, it’s possible to measure the speed of every shot during a rally. The AI within 4Sight processes those data points to calculate the average shot speed and count the total number of shots in the rally, visualising the output within the stream. TDI and the ATP can ‘productise’ these insights by offering them to broadcasters as a match talking point, or as a

betting market for a sportsbook, for example.

What’s more, with this depth of detail driving a deeper appreciation of the sport and building a greater affinity with fans, there are new revenue opportunities for TDI and the ATP to unlock. We know that sports fans actively spend money on tickets and merchandise, so the more engaged they are in the sport the more likely they are to invest in their fandom.

Patrick Mostboeck is Senior Vice President, Fan Engagement at Sportradar

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