How to improve fan engagement: Lessons from Wimbledon’s first-class digital experience

By Matthew Candy

The traditional sports experience features a rigid hierarchy that limits most fans, preventing them from engaging as fully as they otherwise might. The experience of watching a game on your couch is vastly different from watching it from a seat inside the stadium, which is also very different from the experience of sitting in a front-row or courtside seat.

The task of how to improve fan engagement hinges on technology’s ability to democratize these experiences and provide deeper levels of engagement for every fan, regardless of where they’re sitting. Through its partnership with IBM iX, Wimbledon has turned its annual tennis tournament into a truly global sporting event that reaches more fans than ever before and builds deep, lasting connections through the experience powered by its content. In addition to its traditional TV and radio broadcasts, Wimbledon now reaches more than 69 million fans through its digital engagement strategy, while its video views and social media audience have each grown by roughly 25 percent.

As technology has evolved, fans have raised their expectations for live event experiences. They want real-time content, insights and the ability to share across multiple digital channels. Fans aren’t just in consumption mode: They want a sports engagement strategy that provides additional context to the experience and fosters connections around these events.

How to improve fan engagement: Create multiple opportunities to engage

As reported by Bloomberg, Wimbledon fans can access the tennis tournament’s digital experience to unlock a suite of content channels and engaging features. By setting up an individual profile, fans gain access to personalized content based on their favorite players and areas of interest.

Fans can access real-time data and advanced statistics that won’t appear on the stadium scoreboard or in a traditional broadcast. This is a critical feature for devoted tennis fans that want additional context to more deeply understand the competition. Wimbledon’s digital experience is designed to deliver instant information that can supplement fans’ viewing participation. One such feature is the SlamTracker, which uses data-driven insights to forecast the strategies players are likely to use in their matches.

For fans seeking a more involved digital experience, the “Ask Fred” digital assistant can offer a personalized service: Fans can ask Fred for help on a range of subjects, from breaking down the day’s competition schedule to finding the nearest bathroom in the stadium. The Ask Fred app is a great service for fans attending Wimbledon who want personalized help when planning their day.

Serving up an engagement strategy: Content, context and connection

Content related to Wimbledon exists in many different forms across a broad range of platforms. Video content, social media updates, auto-generated highlights, quick stories from Snapchat and Instagram, even radio broadcasts — all of these are sought out by tennis fans. Instead of chasing this different content across the internet, Wimbledon has designed its digital fan experience to offer all of this content through a single centralized destination. This content turns the digital destination into the most logical place for fans to turn their attention.

But content is only the first step of enriching the fan experience and executing a world-class engagement strategy. Wimbledon’s partnership with IBM iX is a model for how to improve fan engagement by leveraging content to create better context for a sports-driven experience. This context delivers greater fulfillment of the experience itself, whether it’s through a better understanding of the strategies used by the pros or simply using social content to place fans within the context of that experience.

Consequently, expanded context opens the door to greater connection among fans, both in terms of how they interact via social media and how connected they are to the event through established digital content experiences. Fans can easily share their own experiences and insights with others to build relationships related to the sporting event. Wimbledon fans can even post social content through the digital platform and make use of its auto-tagging feature to enrich their own social content as they’re sharing it with the world.

This integrated experience is what today’s sports fans crave. Sports are not mere content to be consumed; they are the centerpiece of a larger experience, shaped by an ongoing and dynamic relationship with fans.

Written By

Matthew Candy

Vice President, UKI & Europe Leader, IBM iX

Matt leads a team of renegades and realists. Ambitious and fearless, everyone at IBM iX is an expert in pushing boundaries. Matt oversees a multidisciplinary team across UK, Ireland & Europe that applies design thinking and puts emerging technology to work, helping clients with…

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