Wimbledon Reveals 2016 Digital Plans

Wimbledon 2016With the Wimbledon tennis Championships due to kick off Monday week, the All England Lawn Tennis Club(AELTC), which hosts the event, has revealed its plans to cover and amplify this year’s tournament via digital channels.

This year’s version of the Wimbledon app offers users a run-down of the things to do at the tournament beyond watching the tennis live, such as sitting on the Hill, eating strawberries and having the speed of their serve measured. Once at the tournament, the app will encourage users to take photos of themselves doing this kind of thing, that the app will then stitch together into a short video for sharing on social channels.

At first glance, this seems something of a departure from the traditional purpose of the app, which in previous years has been to enable those not able to attend the event to keep up with it remotely. Wimbledons mantra has always been along the lines of: You came to watch the tennis, so watch the tennis.

However, AELTC commercial and media director Mick Desmond told Mobile Marketing that the aim was not to distract users from enjoying the live action on the courts, but rather, to share all the other things that add to the Wimbledon experience.

“It’s not about capturing what happens on the court, it’s about all the other stuff,” said Desmond. “You can have as much fun as you can watching the tennis doing other stuff around the site… This is an opportunity for people to celebrate being here and to tell their story.”

Emphasising Desmond’s point, Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content & digital at the AELTC, said that based on last year’s experience, the sort of content being shared on SnapChat was indeed, people enjoying their strawberries or shots of the courts being readied for action. “What we’re trying to do is to harness this activity and encourage people to share it, as it’s a fantastic promotion for the brand,” she said.

While the AELTC wants visitors to share their stories on social in the moment, however, it is not providing wi-fi to help them in this cause, though Desmond did say that providing wi-fi in dedicated recreational areas was part of the AELTC’s “medium-term” thinking.

Also new for this year is an Apple TV app, developed by Wimbledon’s long-term technology partner, IBM. The app will offer access to the Live@ Wimbledon TV channel, the accompanying radio channel, video on demand, live scores, and a photo gallery.

IBM is also deploying its Watson and hybrid cloud technologies in what it calls a ‘Cognitive Command Center’. This will ingest feeds across multiple social media channels to work out what are the most relevant and emerging topics of conversation as they relate to Wimbledon, as well as other major sporting events, and then provide those insights to the digital editorial team. In essence, it’s a huge data-crunching exercise to enable the AELTC’s social team to post stuff that people around the world are most likely to be interested in and want to engage with and share.

During the Championships, IBM typically captures 3.2m data points from 19 courts across 13 days with an accuracy target of 100 per cent and a sub-second response time. It does this using highly-trained tennis analysts and transforms that data in near-real-time to provide insights to media organisations and tennis fans around the world

Announcing the plans for this year’s tournament, Desmond also revealed that there were 71m visits to the Wimbledon.com website in 2015, a 13 per cent increase on 2014. Page views were up 14 per cent at 542m, while the number of unique devices used to access the site were up 23 per cent year-on-year at 21.1m, with mobile unique devices up 125 per cent at 5.6m. A promotional video for this year’s event, Desmond added, had clocked up more than half a million views on Facebook in less than 24 hours since it was posted.

We’ll have an exclusive video report from IMB’s ‘Data Bunker’ at Wimbledon during the event.