SBJ/Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2013/In Depth

Open highlights social with digital features

With a hyper focus on social engagement, the U.S. Tennis Association will introduce several new digital features for U.S. Open fans this year, both at the event and at home. Applications for mobile devices and tablets, a revamped USOpen.org and an enhanced live stream are among the multiplatform offerings for 2013.

This year’s event marks the fifth version of the U.S. Open’s free mobile app, which will once again include an interactive map of the grounds along with video highlights and on-demand content for fans. In addition to a smoother user experience, new this year is a scrolling event timeline combining live score updates and editorial content in a central location on the app’s home screen.

This rendering shows the Social Wall that will be on the grounds for the U.S. Open.
Photo by: USTA
Socially speaking, those at the event won’t miss the new Social Wall presented by Chase, Esurance and Xerox. Displayed on the grounds of the Open, this 50-foot-wide by 8-foot-high structure will showcase feeds from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, integrating unique sponsor hashtags in addition to #usopen. A digital “wall” also will be featured on USOpen.org.

“We wanted to take the live event experience and integrate that with the chatter and the discussion and the engagement that happens globally,” said Nicole Jeter West, director of digital strategy and partnerships at the USTA.

“The wall being on the website allows us to bring our global fans right there into the Open and have them engage with everybody who’s on the ground, so we’re excited about what this will bring to us.”

In partnership with SnappyTV, U.S. Open fans will be able to watch near real-time clips of match action and
memorable moments on Twitter. This element will be sponsored by Heineken.

American Express will present Trendcast for iPhone, Android and iPad again this year, a feature that aggregates the top five trending U.S. Open topics being discussed on social platforms. A heat index will display this content to fans, encouraging them to submit questions and comments throughout the event.

“We want to make sure we’re taking the steps to showcase the depth of information that we have and provide that to our audience in order to have them engage socially,” Jeter West said.

The 2013 U.S. Open live stream, powered by IBM, will be available 24/7, for free and without authentication, on USOpen.org and within the U.S. Open iPad app. During CBS broadcast windows, fans can watch the stream within the mobile app.

The main differentiator from the on-air broadcast is that the live stream will showcase six courts, allowing fans to toggle between matches and view statistics and predictive analysis of each match alongside the feed. Within the free iPad app, social media discussions will be broken out by court, giving fans more focused platforms for discussion.

“It was really important for us to be able to serve all of our various audiences,” Jeter West said. “We wanted to make sure the fan who is at home, be it domestically or internationally, has the ability to participate and engage with the U.S. Open as well as the fans that are on-site. We wanted to take those conversations that are happening in all the various places and have them live in one place so that everybody can be part of the conversation.”

U.S. Open 2013 for mobile was made available for download on iPhone and Android beginning the week of Aug. 19. Live streaming of the matches was set to begin with the qualifying tournament on Aug. 20, and was set to include the draw ceremony on Aug. 23.

Amie Sheridan is a writer in Philadelphia.

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