Digital Engagament – Wimbledon Serving Up Aces in Fan Engagement

Often known as the home of Tennis, the All England Tennis Club houses one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar. Not only do they serve up some of the best sports athletes in the world, they are also looking to ace digital engagement.

For 14 days every year, the nation is enthralled with The Championships, Wimbledon. Thousands of spectators flock to South-west London to watch some of the finest tennis individuals on show, and the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) is thriving to create a truly immersive fan experience through digital engagement.

Commercial and Media Director at AELTC, Mick Desmond: “It’s not about capturing what happens on the court, it’s about all the other stuff,”

“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.”

Alexandra Willis, head of Communications, Content & Digital at the AELTC: “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.”

As the anticipation builds every year, in the run up to the tournament, and this year Wimbledon came up trumps with a piece of video content that outlines the tournament and the history behind it.

Data Driven Insights

Utilising IBM’s technological know-how the AELTC has created something they call the ‘Cognitive Command Centre’. Using Watson AI, the ‘machine learning’ platform and cloud technologies, the command centre digests specific topics of conversations, that relate to Wimbledon, from social channels such as Twitter and Facebook that can provide insights for the AELTC digital team. In doing so, the system analyses what’s out there and what’s working, for the AELTC to identify and continue to produce content that genuinely works. The data driven aspects allows the social team behind Wimbledon to target its audiences and enhance the fan experience, not just for those locally but on a worldwide scale.

Real-time stats allow those watching to continuously invest within the matches. IBM’s SlamTracker has been designed to engage viewers further and give us every insight within the given match. A key feature of SlamTracker is the ‘Keys to the Match’ system, which analyses over 8 years of Tennis data, allowing us to better understand such aspects as patterns and styles of play that aid players to optimise performance. Essentially, it provides data-driven predictions for players; for example in 2014 when Andy Murray was beaten in the Quarter-finals by Grigor Dimitrov. Slam Tracker predicted that Murray had to win more than 29% of his first serve return points to have a good chance of winning; which he didn’t.

During the Championships, IBM are able to capture approximately 3.2 million data points from 19 courts across 13 days, with an accuracy target of 100%. It’s done using 48 highly-trained tennis analysts. All of which monitor each and record data throughout each match and further relay this data to media organisations who share this with the 1 billion strong audience around the world.

IBM Data - Digital Engagement at Wimbledon

Virtual Reality

In conjunction with the one of the biggest trends in 2016; VR, Wimbledon jumped on the bandwagon and partnered with VR company Laduma and gave fans a 360-degree video experience of the courts as well as exclusive footage of fans interacting with some of the star players.

The AELTC also produced a 4D cinematic experience with official partner, Jaguar as part of the ‘Feel Wimbledon’ campaign, taking viewers on an experience of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club grounds as well as centre-court.

Apple TV – Wimbledon
In 2016, longstanding Wimbledon technology partner, IBM developed an Apple TV app for the competition. The aim was to enable fans to engage with the tournament from the comfort of their own home. Users are able to sift through real-time scores, watch the Live Wimbledon studio show, as well as live radio commentary and gain exclusive access to to video content and images from the tournament. The Apple TV allows for worldwide audiences to tune into Wimbledon and hand-pick the matches they want to see, following their favoured competitor and becoming immersed within the annual Championships.

Apple TV - Wimbledon Tennis Digital Engagement

Asian Interest

The popularity of the tennis competition is second to none, and this is no different in other countries such as China. With its popularity, the AELTC has also began targeting audiences in such regions, aiming to further the appeal of the tournament. The Wimbledon official website had over 540m hits in 2015, and in light of its traffic the AELTC produced a Chinese alternative for Chinese fans. As well as keeping up appearances on Chinese social channels, the AELTC also created a 14-day bespoke video diary in Mandarin as well as a social game released on popular network WeChat.

Though the astounding traffic shown on the Wimbledon website, the AELTC is reluctant to begin incorporating WiFi within the grounds. Needless to say, but the traffic shown on the website presents an option for all those wanting to follow the competition around the world.

Wimbledon App

The Wimbledon App for iOS and Android provides users with the ability to customise and personalise the content feed for users who want to follow certain matches, with live updates. The app also permits an enhanced experience for those lucky enough to visit the All England Lawn Tennis Club, giving users a comprehensive run-down of what they can do whilst visiting such as; such as sitting on the Hill, eating strawberries and having the speed of their serve measured. The app also encourages users to take photos whilst visiting, which later at compiled within the app to create short video of their day which can later be shared via social media channels.

Social

Like all sports and brands, a social presence is key in building and maintaining a fan base. Wimbledon is no exception with this and holds a good standing on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The latest edition is the use of Snapchat; using Snapchat’s ‘Create Your Own Story’ element to encourage visitors within the geo-location to share their images with others within the location.

Using digital means is a prime way for Wimbledon to build its global fan base, according to Commercial and Media Director, Mick Desmond; it’s the “next best thing to being there”. Incorporating an app and the Apple TV channel allows for fans throughout the world to view and engage themselves within the oldest tennis tournament in the world. Utilising the cognitive command centre allows the AELTC to further target and entice their audiences to generate genuine engagement within the competition.

Its evident that the AELTC have taken large steps into the digital age and continued the appeal for the annual tournament. It’s uncertain exactly what the 2017 tournament has in-store for us digitally, but we can expect increased emphasis on digital innovations.

All photos taken from Wimbledon sources.

If you’re interested in digital innovation in sport, contact us: kieran@puzzlelondonsport.com