Author: Steve Peck, Art Director, BBH New York
If you follow golf, then you know that the Masters and the word ‘innovation’ don’t usually belong in the same sentence. In many ways, that still holds true – The Masters certainly isn’t changing the game in how it’s played. But, in the way the Masters site functions, it is changing how it is experienced. Here’s how:
Multi-Camera Live Streaming Coverage – Choose one of five cameras to watch a live broadcast (full screen if you prefer). You can also view an additional camera with the picture-in-picture feature and swap back and forth between the two. Not a bad live viewing experience.
Time-Based Viewing – Watch tagged highlights throughout the day for each of the set cameras. If you’re watching the camera for holes 15 and 16 live at 4pm, you can scrub across the timeline to see thumbnails of previous highlights earlier in the day. So you can go check out that long birdie putt that Mickelson laid in at 11:30 am. You can return to live viewing at any time.
Scorecard-Based Viewing – The leaderboard offers another unique feature; not only does it provide updated scores in real time, but the score from each player on each hole, but a yellow outline around the score denotes a video. It allows you to track an individual player’s highlights throughout the round as it’s played.
User-directed Viewing Experience – Essentially you can view the tournament from a specific vantage point through a live camera; historically in a timeline throughout the day; or through any one individual player’s round. The Masters iPhone app further provides a multitude of features including: live mobile tv; video highlights; streaming radio; leaderboard; news; photos; and a course overview. The mobile app extends the Masters reach and is available for free. It is very useful for the audience since most people are at work during live coverage throughout the day Thursday and Friday. The web and mobile features allow the audience to stay current and decide what and how they want to experience the tournament.
Take a look at how the site felt to experience in this film:
So how did they make all of this happen?
The Masters has a limited media and sponsorship structure and is fully supported by only three (admittedly large) companies: AT&T, ExxonMobil, and IBM. The Masters doesn’t run many commercials and all of them come from those three companies. While AT&T and ExxonMobil operate like traditional sponsors, IBM’s participation is unique and extends further than pasting logos around the event and running television media during live broadcasts. In fact, IBM actually utilizes their technology and expertise to power the masters.com website. Rick Singer, VP of client executive marketing at IBM says, “We provide virtually all of their technology needs from beginning to end. That includes a wide range of tasks such as: core infrastructure and data center management; website design and interactive content development; networking and security; and golf scoring and player statistics, a.k.a. “data management.”
More information about the technical specifics are available here.
An important thing to note is that IBM is actually proving their product functionality through this sponsorship. They are demonstrating their technology management capabilities in providing an engaging experience online and in the mobile space. It’s about *doing it*, not just saying it.
The Masters is a great example of how the interactive space can change and enhance the viewing experience. It’s way more dynamic and personalized than broadcast and provides more useful tools and information. This would have been outstanding for the Winter Olympics earlier this year; you might have been able to see earlier ski races you might have missed, for example, or watched Shaun White in training. It will be exciting to see how implementing this technology will develop into the future. When watching football, you could go and view a video clip of each touchdown or scoring drive (let’s wait and see how the coming World Cup in June turns out – there’s surely innovation to come there). When watching baseball, you could click on your favorite player to see clips of all his hits for that game (or any game).
We say kudos to the Masters and to IBM for taking up the challenge and setting an exceptional benchmark in changing the game for live events.
What did you think? What might have been different or better? What did we miss?