The 2012 Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament is said to be the most digitally connected major sporting event of all time.
Qualifying play began on Wednesday and tournament play officially begins tomorrow as the first Grand Slam tournament of 2012 kicks off. So what are they doing to be so "digital"?
The Australian Open has a Slamtracker that is providing real-time updates of qualifying play by using a database called the Australian Open Vault (visit by clicking here). The AOTV Vault allows fans to explore full-length matches dating all the way back to 1998, take sneak peeks at some of the best rallies, shots, and match points in history, and look at stats by filtering for players, years, championship matches, comebacks, or great upsets.
That's not all though! Tournament officials have stated that they will be tweeting from the @AustralianOpen Twitter feed 24 hours a day through the finals on January 29. The official hashtag of the tournament and for this competition is #ausopen. Also, a certain amount of fans will be selected as "Fan-bassadors" by proving that they are particularly active online and share a wealth of tennis knowledge.
What else? The Australian Open has an official Fan Centre. The idea of the Fan Centre is to engage fans as much as possible throughout the tournament. There is a Fan Centre Social Leaderboard that is launching tomorrow (Monday). This means that when someone tweets about an athlete or chooses to 'like' them on Facebook, they will be increasing that player's social media ranking. Also in the Fan Centre is a predictor game where fans can select their picks for daily matches and see how they are comparing in predictions to their friends, families, and colleagues. There is a trivia game that can be played by fans of all ages and levels of knowledge. You can play against friends or against complete strangers and by entering the game you have a chance of winning Australian Open giveaways. There are many more opportunities through the Fan Centre so be sure to check them out by clicking here!
The digital manager for Tennis Australia, Kim Trengrove, said "we're kind of tapping into people's competitiveness as fans as well as their love for the players. Our overriding goal is to increase interest in tennis... Ultimately, we want to get people playing the sport too, and our goal is to get 4 million people playing here by 2016."
To sum up the extraordinary coverage on digital media by the Australian Open, here is a recap:
1. Slamtracker providing real-time updates of qualifiers
2. Live tweeting 24 hours a day
3. Engaging fans by recruiting "Fan-bassadors"
4. Using the Fan Centre to excite fans on a variety of levels
5. And so much more!
So when you're watching the Australian Open during the next two weeks (which I hope you all do!), be sure to tweet and/or 'like' your favorite athletes to increase their presence on the official Fan Centre Social Leaderboard!