IBM Watson and ESPN Collaborate to Revolutionize Fantasy Football with AI

9:10 pm
October 5, 2023

IBM Watson and ESPN have joined forces to bring artificial intelligence (AI) to the world of fantasy football. By using IBM’s AI platform, watsonx, ESPN Fantasy Football is providing 11 million fantasy team managers with a comprehensive data-driven experience that goes beyond traditional statistics. By tapping into the power of watsonx, ESPN and IBM have built AI models that can understand the language of football and generate over 48 billion insights for fantasy managers, such as recommending trade opportunities and identifying waiver wire players to meet specific team needs.


Fantasy football is a data-driven endeavor that requires making informed decisions based on relevant insights and information. ESPN has partnered with IBM for the past seven years to leverage AI and data analytics to provide fantasy football players with a more advanced and personalized experience. By using IBM’s AI platform, watsonx, ESPN has created AI models that can analyze vast amounts of unstructured data from news stories, opinion pieces by experts, and injury reports to provide valuable insights to fantasy managers. The AI models generate over 48 billion insights, helping fantasy managers make better decisions, select the right players, and improve their chances of winning.


1. How does AI enhance the fantasy football experience?

AI models built with watsonx, IBM’s AI platform, ingest and analyze millions of news stories, expert opinions, and injury reports to provide insights that go beyond traditional statistics. Fantasy managers can receive personalized ratings for potential players, assess the value of trades, compare players using structured and unstructured data analysis, estimate the risk and reward scenarios, and more. These AI-generated insights enhance the decision-making process and allow fantasy managers to create more competitive teams.

2. How are the AI models integrated into the ESPN fantasy football app?

The AI models are integrated into the ESPN fantasy football app through unique features called Waiver Grades and Trade Grades. These features use containerized applications built on Red Hat OpenShift, which are hosted on the IBM Cloud. The AI models power these features, providing users with personalized ratings, trade insights, and player comparisons to help them make informed decisions.

3. How does the partnership between IBM and ESPN benefit both companies?

For ESPN, fantasy football is a critical driver of digital engagement and revenue. By incorporating AI into their fantasy football platform, ESPN aims to enhance the user experience, increase customer satisfaction, and attract new members. For IBM, the partnership allows them to showcase the power of AI and data analytics in transforming massive amounts of data into meaningful insights. It demonstrates AI’s potential to drive innovation and provide valuable solutions in various industries.

4. How long has IBM been collaborating with ESPN on fantasy football?

IBM and ESPN have been collaborating for seven years to bring AI and data analytics to the world of fantasy football. Throughout this partnership, IBM’s AI models have generated hundreds of billions of AI-generated insights, continuously improving the user experience and providing fantasy managers with valuable information to make better roster decisions.

5. Can the AI models be applied to other sports besides football?

While the current collaboration between IBM and ESPN focuses on fantasy football, the AI models built with watsonx have the potential to be applicable to other sports as well. The AI models’ ability to analyze unstructured data and provide personalized insights can be leveraged in other fantasy sports or even in professional sports analytics to assist teams and coaches in making data-driven decisions.


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