Wimbledon has wrapped for another year but alongside the on-court excitement, the event’s digital offering has been serving up a match-winning performance when it comes to how digital is used within sport.
This year, the organisation behind the world’s oldest and most famous tennis tournament teamed up with Jaguar to create a ‘crowd biometrics’ hub on Wimbledon’s main website. Members of the crowd were fitted with digital bracelets measuring the atmosphere and feeling amongst spectators at the court, reflecting the excitement and tension of tight matches and the calm lulls of a hiatus in a match.
Although steeped in tradition and history, Wimbledon has always been keen to remain at the forefront of digital - its social media platforms are a shining example of best practice social sports reporting, with constantly-updated match footage, impressive time-lapse videos, exclusive candid instagram posts and brand new ‘Wimbledon emojis’.
However, Wimbledon is not alone. Other big sports organisations have been developing their digital offerings in innovative and user-focused ways.
Robust visualisation of information
Arguably one of the most visually stunning examples of an interactive sports site is OlympicStory.com, an online archive and information hub about the Winter Olympics. A user is able to select a year, and be presented with clear, interesting visual stats, snippets of information and trivia, and interactive maps placing all the medals within the countries that won them. Even someone uninterested in the Winter Olympics cannot fail to be drawn into the plethora of easily and enjoyably accessible information,
Another stimulating example of the visualisation of data is Transferwindow.info, which focuses on the money which changes hands globally during football transfer windows. The ten most famous leagues in the world are transformed into strands of a fluid, moving spider-web of strands of information.
Interactive sporting guides and maps are not confined to the sporting organisations sites only, however. News reporting sites have recently produced interactive guides to align with their reporting of big sporting events. The Guardian especially has a strong hand in interactive maps in general, and has ventured into sport with its 2014 interactive guide to the Tour de France, and its World Cup 2014 Brazil stadium guide. The Telegraph also produced a map for the 2015 Boat Race.
Innovation and, crucially, personalisation have become key as different organisations and media outlets compete to become the ‘second screen’ for people watching sporting events.
The revitalised and streamlined ESPN app (renamed from the vague ‘SportsCenter’) offers users the chance to pick their favourite teams and athletes and receive up-to-the-minute personalised information whenever they log in. Two separate columns allow for a constant feed of images, tweets and videos alongside the day’s top stories and recaps, respectively. This is a new approach, giving unverified social and viral content the same priority as official news stories.
The SportsManias app offers a similar approach, with a personalised ‘My Teams’ segment that separates further into articles, tweets, videos, rumour, standings and stats.
Another extremely successful example of the merging of sports news and personalised information can be found on the EuroSport app and website, which provides an information hub for multiple sports across Europe. The site and app are condensed into three central columns - ‘Scores,’ ‘Headlines’ and ‘My Feed.’ Users are prompted to pick one or multiple teams or athletes to create a mini Twitter-like feed focusing on teams and individuals that they are fans of, and providing them with news, exclusive content and footage relating to these.