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IBM to Leverage Watson, Enhance Fantasy Football Experience

Zacks Equity Research

International Business Machines Corporation IBM will be leveraging the AI capabilities of Watson to enrich ESPN Fantasy Football experience for gamers.

IBM unveiled a new feature called Trade Assistant (only for mobile iOS and Android) to help gamers make judicious decisions regarding adding and offloading players from the teams.

Trade Assistant feature is powered by Watson’s Discovery Feature and NLP (natural language processing) abilities. The feature will evaluate wide array of unstructured data obtained from blog posts, news articles and expert opinions about a player’s performance and convert into structured data to form valuable insights. These insights will be offered to gamers to help them in their decision-making for forming teams.

International Business Machines Corporation Price and Consensus

International Business Machines Corporation Price and Consensus
International Business Machines Corporation Price and Consensus

International Business Machines Corporation price-consensus-chart | International Business Machines Corporation Quote

IBM’s bid to integrate AI into sports systems’ is in sync with its strategy to go beyond fan engagement to influencing players with robust strategies. IBM recently collaborated with United States Tennis Association (USTA) to leverage the AI capabilities of Watson and its Red Hat Open Shift cloud platform to provide its fans with an interactive digital experience to enjoy US Open 2020 off-site.

These innovative solutions aided by IBM Watson poises the company well in gaining momentum and boost confidence in the stock among the investor community. Notably, shares of IBM have declined 9.4% in the year-to-date period compared with the industry’s decline of 14.5%.

Momentum in Fantasy Sports Bode Well

Fantasy sports is fast gaining traction. It enables players to make virtual teams from existing professional players. Based on real-life performance of these players, one can earn points.  The idea is to allow fans to get more connected to the game while enabling them to win cash by predicting winners from the matchups.

Per a ResearchAndMarkets report, fantasy sports is projected to witness a CAGR of 5% between 2020 and 2025. Apart from the inherent interest in sports world over, the rapid deployment of 5G network, increasing number of fantasy sports apps available and growth in digital advertisements augur well for the market’s long-term prospects.

This market is currently dominated by the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo Daily Fantasy along with ESPN Fantasy app. However, the coronavirus induced stay at home trends has negatively impacted Fantasy sports as many leagues like National Basketball Association (NBA)  have suspended the tournaments this year, added the report.

ESPN Fantasy Football has been around for quite some time. ESPN also has other fantasy sports under its portfolio like basketball, baseball, and hockey. ESPN Fantasy games app boasts an estimated 20 million players across mobile, web, TV, and streaming video.

IBM has been assisting ESPN toward improving the experience on the fantasy app for the players. Currently, ESPN’s Fantasy Football has a  feature called Insights with IBM Watson.

The Insights feature deploys NLP abilities to crunch massive amount of data to calculate the probability of a player achieving his projected scoring range and enables participants to get an idea of risk-reward of the players’ roster.

AI Proliferation Lures Tech Bigwigs to Sports

Technology is disrupting sports industry. Increasing proliferation of AI, ML, and sports analytics to harness the power of on-field and off-field data to boost player and fan experience has lured tech bigwigs in this space.

Per Mordor Intelligence data, AI market pertaining to sports domain is projected to witness a CAGR of 28.7% between 2019 and 2025. Also, MarketsandMarkets data estimates sports analytics market to witness a CAGR of 22% from 2019 to 2024.

Cloud computing giant, Amazon AMZN is working with National Football league (NFL) for generating deeper insights into player injuries and improving player safety by applying Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) AI and cloud capabilities. Recently, AWS introduced six new statistics for NFL 2020’s kick-off game. The new statistics are aimed at helping fans to get more information of the game and regarding individual players and teams’ performances.

Microsoft MSFT also teamed with NFL, NBA, and soccer giant Real Madrid to help in their digital transformation acceleration. Microsoft’s is leveraging Teams app to provide NFL fans with enriched experiences during this year’s games. Microsoft Teams Meetings will allow a few selected fans to join and be seen at LED screens set up in the stadiums called Fan Mosaic during key games, which will also be shown on the live broadcast of the game.

Moreover, Intel INTC is already collaborating with European football clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea along with Major League Basketball (MLB) to create immersive online experiences for fans.

Nevertheless, IBM’s growing exposure in digital overhaul of sports, augurs well over the longer haul.

However, coronavirus crisis-induced sluggish spending across small and medium businesses owing to restricted economic activity, globally, is likely to put pressure on adoption of IBM's cognitive and AI applications in the near future.

IBM currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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