This time last year, we wrote about Wimbledon leading the way in digital. 12 months on, the world’s oldest and most famous tennis tournament once again served up a winning performance in using digital within sport. We’ve taken a look at what’s new at SW19.

Snapchat and social

Wimbledon this year signed a three-year-deal with Snapchat to share live moments from Wimbledon, including user footage. The news came as Snapchat announced that it had 10 million active daily users in the UK, making us its second largest market behind the US. Snapchat will display Wimbledon as a Live Story around the world on the first and final days of the tournament. The agreement saw Grand Slam Champion Serena Williams take over the Wimbledon Snapchat for a day.

Aside from their rewarding best practice stance on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, Wimbledon also ensure their presence on international platforms, including Line, Japan's messaging app, Weibo and We Chat. 

Data insights

Wimbledon’s plan, with long-running partner IBM, to ‘reinvigorate tennis through data’ has once again seen an IBM data ‘bunker’ in the hub of the broadcasting centre at Wimbledon. This command centre looks at all of the major social networks, analyses what’s being looked at and spoken about, and combines it with collected data and the input of trained analysts to create statistics and insights for commentators as well as viewers and fans via social media, apps and the website. IBM have produced an insightful guide to how it delivers a unique digital experience, use a hybrid cloud and ‘turn data into insight - and insight into narrative.’

Wimbledon has a social team of three, but expands this to 25 when the tournament is actually on. This team are able to use the insights provided by the IBM command centre to provide their followers on social with real-time facts and statistics as matches happen. 

Other innovative developments new at the tournament this year have included:

  • App overhaul: Wimbledon has redesigned its main apps to include features such as ‘Plan Your Visit’ and ‘Create My Story’, as well as launching an App for Apple TV which included a myriad of content and information, intended to accompany rather than compete with BBC coverage.

  • Twitter live streaming: the social network this year used Wimbledon as its first high definition live-streaming of a sporting event. The feed featured a video window with related comments on mobile, or an expanded screen with comments in a separate column on desktop.

  • Virtual reality: Wimbledon this year launched a brand new, unique 360-degree video experience. The video, in partnership with VR company Laduma, gave fans a virtual reality tour of the courts, and exclusive footage of players greeting fans. Meanwhile, Wimbledon sponsor Jaguar created a ‘4D cinematic experience’, narrated by Andy Murray, as part of its #FeelWimbledon campaign.

...but something’s missing

However, despite Wimbledon remaining at the forefront of spectator digital innovation, there is one issue that remains unresolved at SW19 - the continuing absence of WiFi (even for those waiting in the infamous queue). This has been picked up on by several digital commenters and members of the public on social media.

Those in digital have questioned whether the reason is due to the practical difficulties of covering such a large area as opposed to an enclosed stadium. There has also been suggestions that it is a deliberate act to preserve the traditions of the event - the Commercial and Media Director of the AELTC has said “’s quite an intimate environment, there’s a sense that part of our brand is protecting what’s going on, on court.” He also explained that they didn’t want to claim to have full WiFi coverage only for the public to “get there and the user experience is disappointing.”

The possibility has arisen that the refusal of Wimbledon to address the ongoing lack of WiFi could be to do with the rise of online betting, especially taking into account the ease of fixing a one-on-one sport such as tennis, and allegations that have surfaced fairly recently. If courtside spectators sees an incident during a match, such as the favourite injuring themselves, and are able to make a bet before the odds take this into account, betting companies could be compromised.

Stay tuned for next year’s update from the world’s most famous green lawns!

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