Social Networking apps a key to sports broadcasting this summer


Many summaries of the 2011 television year noted the growing influence of Twitter. Examples given included the quick demise of Ben Elton’s Live from Planet Earth or the furore that developed following the broadcast of Kyle & Jackie O’s A Night with the Stars.

Whilst networks have been encouraging viewer engagement through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, cricket and tennis coverage this summer on both Nine and Seven have gone one step further, with each utilising sponsorship driven mobile social networking apps to further engage viewers in the broadcasts. Nine have featured throughout its summer of cricket the Vodafone Viewers’ Verdict App, whilst Seven have promoted during its summer of tennis the Yahoo!7 Fango App and ANZ Open Mic.

These two big summer sports pit Seven and Nine against each other as they both try to gain early ascendence in the yearly ratings battle. The use of new social networking tools is another way to capture viewers and the all important advertising dollar.

Vodafone Viewers’ Verdict is powered by iPowow’s voting platform and allows viewers at home to respond instantly to questions in-program via the Viewers’ Verdict, with results displayed on air via a special graphic.

Steve Crawley, Nine Network Head of Sport, said last year:

“Wide World of Sports has been at the forefront of sports broadcasting for 30 years and the Nine Network continues to bring the best sports presentation and technology to its audience, leading the way in sports broadcasting in Australia.”

The Vodafone Viewers’ Verdict is found within the free Cricket Live Australia app which features a range of exclusive content including LIVE Cricket TV, live scores/fixtures, ball by ball commentary, highlights, news as it happens.

John Casey, Director of Marketing at Vodafone, said at the time of launching the app:

“We are proud to bring fans the next evolution of our Cricket Live Australia app- the Vodafone Viewers’ Verdict, which enables cricket fans to have their say as the dramas unfold during this summer’s Vodafone Test Series.”

It appears that the sponsorship integration has been a great success with Stephen Saunders, Vodafone’s Head of Sponsorship, telling Nine’s Mark Taylor during the Adelaide Test Match broadcast that the app has been downloaded around 700,000 times and nearly 10 million in votes received through the viewers’ verdict.

Seven, on the other hand, throughout its Australian Open coverage has promoted Fango, a free TV check- in app for iPhone and iPad in Australia, that as the press release states provides a way for “TV fans to meaningfully connect and participate in TV shows they are passionate about.”

Kath Hamilton, Director of Operations at Yahoo!7 said,

“Fango is the social way to watch TV. It will provide a real-time social forum for fans to connect with each other around their favourite programmes and live media events. They won’t just be watching, they will have the opportunity to participate in real time,”

ANZ have jumped on board this year with Seven to sponsor on-court post match interviews. The interviews are now known as ANZ Open Mic. Viewers during the match have been encouraged to send questions to Seven commentators such as to Jim CourierSam Smith and Todd Woodbridge via the Fango App.

A key element to this newest form of social networking is to engage viewers further in the broadcast and therefore provide another opportunity for sponsors to ingrate their sponsorship of a program. As Yahoo!7’s Commercial Director Damon Scarr said,

“Fango provides a companion experience to connect brands with passionate fans within a social environment in a way not available before. We are working with advertisers to develop new advertising experiences that engage the consumer across multiple devices in a truly integrated way.”

With massive download numbers for the Vodafone Viewers’ Verdict and no doubt similar numbers from Fango it will be interesting to see how networks will continue to use these new social networking tools to deliver new integration for sponsors, who in turn will be hoping viewers respond to this new form of sponsorship/advertising positively.

Have you interacted with these new Apps for Seven and Nine during this Summer?


Wide World of Sports in Australian First

Have your say with Vodafone Viewers Verdict app

Yahoo!7 Socialises the TV Experience with New Check-in App ‘Fango’ 

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