US Open, Twitter Savor ‘Instant Highlights’

NEW YORK -- The two-year promotional partnership of Twitter and tennis’s U.S. Open had helped spread word of the tournament via “instant highlights,” something the overseers want to continue.

“I think you will see instant highlights continue, and it’ll just be a matter of what form or fashion that takes,” Nicole Jeter West, senior director, ticketing and digital strategy for the United States Tennis Association, said at a session during The Business of Live Television Summit Tuesday in New York City. “But we are all committed to the fact that this is working for us, it’s working for our fans and our partners.”

In 2013, an epic rally between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the men’s final was a milestone moment in the USTA and Twitter’s efforts to send almost real-time video snippets out via promoted tweets, in an effort to get people to tune into the broadcast and expose them to a sponsor’s message (in this case Heineken) just by opening up a tweet targeted to them.

West said while that 54-shot rally was happening, she was hearing from Heineken and other media partners about getting images from it out on Twitter.

“We were able to get it out within seconds of the actual shot happening, and it blew up on Twitter and became quite viral,” West told moderator Dade Hayes, the executive editor of Broadcasting & Cable.

“Instantly there were about 10,000 retweets,” Mike Park, product & content partnerships for Twitter Amplify, the social firm’s ad platform.

“There’s no better tune-in message than to say this amazing 54-shot rally is taking place,” West said.

In 2014, West said, USTA scaled back on the ad messaging in favor of getting messages out more quickly and getting more people to open the tweets. Park said Twitter was accommodating pre-roll ads of up to 6 seconds in length, which works well with Vine, Twitter’s short-video platform. “We are continuing to look at what scales for advertisers and marketers and users,” he said.

She said some of the Twitter Amplify messages drove tune-in to events that were being streamed, as opposed to solely promoting live-TV viewing.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.