If you’re a Snapchat user, you know that within the past year the app created a live photo and video sharing feed for big events, such as the World Cup, Bonnaroo or “Snowmageddon” in New York City. The community feed, called “Our Story,” allows users to submit their own snaps into a collection that is then seen by millions of users worldwide.
Yesterday, I was pleased to see that Wimbledon was featured as Snapchat’s “Our Story,” which included shots of Novak Djokovic shooing a bird off the court, Lucie Safarova heading to practice and randomly, one of the kids in One Direction. The feed also included snapchats of users eating strawberries and cream, sipping on Pimm’s and hanging out with friends on the grounds. Sounds like fun, but what’s the big deal?
While Wimbledon sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and is broadcasted on TV to millions, Snapchat is allowing people who wouldn’t typically tune into a tennis tournament to get an inside glimpse into one of the world’s oldest sporting events. The time-honored tennis tournament is getting a digital makeover — and that’s a really good thing.
Those who contribute to a Snapchat live feed have seen views as high as 27 million, according to a GigaOm article from earlier this year. To put that in perspective, when Andy Murray captured the Wimbledon title in 2013, the peak audience in the United Kingdom was 17.3 million and the viewership in the United States was just 2.5 million.
Is it possible then that a single snapchat from Wimbledon could be viewed by nearly 11 times the number of people who watched Murray’s victory on ESPN?
Yes. And that’s no accident.
At a recent press conference, Wimbledon’s digital strategy director Alexandra Willis discussed the use of Snapchat as a way to engage with more viewers and remake the tournament’s “stuffy” image, according to an article by The Drum. The same article quotes Willis as saying: “It’s all about trying to show Wimbledon to a different audience. It’s about engaging with a younger generation. We wouldn’t want to get to a point where our audience is getting older and we haven’t found an entry point to them.”
The need to connect with younger generations is not only a concern of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, but of the tennis industry in general, and especially in the United States, where there seems to be a constant fear of the death of American tennis.
Is an American teenager suddenly going to pick up a tennis racket because he saw Novak Djokovic goofing around on the lawns at Wimbledon? Probably not, but it’s certainly not impossible. What’s important about Wimbledon being on Snapchat is that it’s a step forward for the tennis industry that says, yes we still require you wear the same color we wore in 1877, but we also recognize that it’s 2015.
There are so many digital channels that tennis can experiment with and Snapchat is just one. So keep sharing your photos of strawberries and cream and that kid from One Direction, Wimbledon fans — you’re doing us good.