By Barry Janoff
August 28, 2013: IBM, which has been an official sponsor of the U.S. Tennis Assn. and the U.S. Open since 1992, has extended its alliance for another four years.
The new pact takes up where the most-recent four-year deal, signed in 2009, left off and runs through 2016.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
IBM has official alliances with all four tennis Grand Slam events (U.S. Open, Australian, French and Wimbledon), golf's Masters and U.S. Open and the Tony Awards.
As the official information technology provider to the U.S. Open, IBM said it provides end-to end solutions that include hardware, software and services to capture, analyze and distribute match and tournament information.
IBM has developed, produced and hosted the official U.S. Open tournament digital platforms since 1995 — including USOpen.org and the U.S. Open mobile applications. Fan and player engagement also includes the IBM Scoring System, Serve Speed Radar and SlamTracker (pictured), featuring keys-to-the-match predictive analytics.
The infrastructure that supports the U.S. Open's global presence is hosted on an IBM SmartCloud.
IBM also runs tennis-specific marketing under its 'Let's Build a Smarter Planet" campaign.
"This is a partnership, not a company-client relationship," said Nicole Jeter West, director of digital strategy and partnership for the USTA. "The alliance with IBM has so many layers. We are constantly working with them to increase the data and build on platforms to continue to improve the U.S. Open experience."
The growth of tech solutions created by IBM for and in conjunction with the USTA can be tracked via the tremendous growth of Internet and mobile usage during the IBM-USTA relationship. In 1997, there were 8 million total visits to the official U.S. Open Web site. That rose to 12.9 million in 2001. In 2008, total visits more than tripled to 39 million.
In 2012, there were 325 million total visits to the U.S. Open Web pages, with 117 million of them coming from mobile devices, according to IBM.
"This is such a great alliance that I hadn't even looked at the contract since the last renewal [in 2009]," said Rick Singer, vp-client executive marketing for IBM. "We have extended [the pact] for another four years, but in reality it is an alliance that we see continuing for many more years beyond that."
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