IBM Canada has announced a new multi-year agreement with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). This partnership makes IBM the official sponsorship partner for cybersecurity and technology consulting services for the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. It is an extension of an existing 20 year partnership that encompasses multiple activities.
“We are reimagining the fan experience for the teams…Our consulting teams are meeting with the technology teams at MLSE and really looking at, end to end, what are the ways that they can improve and enhance how fans experience the teams. They’re looking at every dimension, whether it’s the online dimension or the game itself,” said Jay Badiani, IBM Canada’s Chief Marketing Officer.
MLSE is one of only a few sports and entertainment companies in North America with a dedicated cybersecurity practice. Since 2020, IBM has been providing threat detection and response technologies such as QRadar SIEM that help deliver secure and trustworthy digital experiences to fans.
The Maple Leafs and Raptors also have access to IBM’s X-Force Red offensive security team.
In addition, this collaboration aims to support digital transformation for the Maple Leafs and Raptors. The two companies are working together to create the next generation digital fan experiences through technology consulting services provided to the Maple Leafs, Raptors, and Scotiabank Arena.
IBM will also have the title partnership of a Sport + STEM Foundation within MLSE LaunchPad, which provides technology and resources that encourage youth to explore ways to integrate digital sports skills and STEM into their lives.
“IBM has had a focus on STEM for quite a long time. And it’s something we’re quite proud of, in terms of our corporate not just sort of giving to the communities where we are but also creating the next generation of technology people who will work at IBM and work in this industry,” Badiani said. “And MLSE has an amazing program with youth as well around sports, and so we look at this as a really innovative, creative way of combining what MLSE does with youth and sports with what IBM does with youth and stem.”
The collaboration between IBM and MLSE is also focusing on enhancing Raptors Uprising, MLSE’s official NBA 2K League team.
As the AI and cloud partner for Raptors Uprising, IBM will continue to use its technology and services to power the team’s roster decisions, and to integrate IBM services into draft and player selection and movement decisions.
Badiani said IBM is looking at ways it can improve player performance.
“They have players who play NBA 2K in their league and we are involved in the ways that these players can be better. Who are the right players to be drafting in the future? What are the ways that we can improve their performance and advise the management of the team? That’s all based on the analytics and the tools that IBM could bring to that in terms of monitoring performance and looking at trends,” he said.
IBM Canada, with the Maple Leafs and Raptors, is also introducing a new IBM Basketball League program, and has been named as the official and exclusive partner of the Raptors Practice Court at Scotiabank Arena. IBM will also have extensive branding presence on warm-up shooting jerseys, signage, and logo placement.