LIKE millions of others, I saw sporting history being made in SW19 yesterday as Andy Murray became the first British man in 77 years to claim the Wimbledon crown. But my experience of the event was more than being a television viewer – I consumed it on a variety of platforms – and, thanks to social media, the experience has continued well into today.
I watched the match on television, listened to both radio and television commentary, followed it online, viewed it via Instagram and commented on the match via Twitter – simultaneously – like tens of thousands of others no doubt. Murray’s victory has become the most watched moment of 2013 so far, with 17.3 million tuning in to the BBC for the end of the third and deciding set. (Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23225146 )
There’s no huge surprise there. It didn’t come anywhere near the most watched UK programme of all time, which was the infamous episode of Eastenders when Dirty Den told his long-suffering wife Angie that he wanted a divorce. More than 30 million watched that piece of small screen history in 1986, the year before Murray was born – and decades before social media pervaded our communications. But in 2013, we have so many more options when it comes to media consumption and social media is, for many, an integral part of that experience.
Doubtless, some people followed the match primarily on social media. According to @TwitterUK stats, over a 12-hour period, the Wimbledon final was mentioned more than 3.4 million times. The peak came at 5.25pm, when 120,000 mentions were made of the game; over 37,500 of which mentioned Murray. That bettered the 116,000 tweets per minute which came courtesy of the Spice Girls during last summer’s Olympics. Murray also outstripped his opponent Novak Djokovic for Twitter mentions, as this graph shows:
Spookily, in keeping with the 7-7 theme, Murray’s first post-victory tweet got over 77,000 retweets and favourites within an hour of him tweeting it.
Just over 21 hours later, and those figures are still increasing. At the time of writing the tally stands at 91,312 retweets and 70,439 favourites. By my calculations that means that only Barack Obama and Justin Beiber have had more retweets than the super Scot. I’ve asked Twitter to confirm that and will update as and when they do. If it’s true, that’s another achievement to add to Murray’s title!
I don’t suppose he’ll be too bothered, but there’s no doubt that he realises the importance of social media for him as a sports star. As well as fulfilling his interview obligations to the traditional media, he’s been answering questions via Facebook and Twitter today. At 9:44 he told his almost million and a half Facebook followers that he was ready to answer some of their questions. There were scores, and a selection got a response, ranging from how he slept the night before the final, what he ate, to whether he was going to take a holiday and if he found the crowd distracting. He didn’t answer the many people who asked if he was going to propose to his girlfriend. Even social media savy champions have to keep some things to themselves.
Then it was on to Twitter for a Q & A. At 11:22 he tweeted that he had ten minutes to answer some questions. He answered 11, before also telling his almost two million followers that he’d posted a Vine of the trophy for them to watch. That’s a pretty impressive work rate, even for a champion and he had traditional media commitments to fulfil too, along no doubt with sponsorship requirements. He also had to squeeze in a visit to Number 10.
There’s no doubt that an increase in popularity of social media platforms, coupled with the insatiable appetite of their consumers for more interaction, has put added pressure on those in the public eye. Everyone wants a piece of the man who made Britain proud, and thanks to Murray’s willingness to engage with social media, many have shared in the victory in a much more personal way.