Ryder Cup Gets Big Online Push — Live Video and Social Media Too

Following on their successful joint effort at the season’s last major, the PGA and Turner Sports will kick out the online jams for this week’s Ryder Cup matches, with a lot of free online live video and some social-media bells and whistles that include a U.S. vs. Europe Twitter contest.

According to a press release from Turner and the PGA, the Rydercup.com website will be the host of a wide array of event coverage that will supplement the TV coverage, which is also extensive — 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Eastern) on ESPN on Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on NBC Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on NBC Sunday. Online coverage will start Friday and Saturday at 8:30 a.m., and continue until play concludes. Sunday, online coverage of the singles matches starts at noon. The matches are taking place at Medinah Country Club just outside Chicago.

The live video online will probably be similar to the experience we saw at the PGA Championship, with live updates, video archives and scores. There was both good and bad, with a great feature that let you go back and replay anything that had happened previously, and a terrible feature called “predict it” that keeps annoying you in a popup window asking you to predict what’s about to happen. Though sports prediction games are increasingly appearing, I have yet to be convinced that predicting shots in golf online is what the experience is all about.

There is one big whiff, however, on the Ryder Cup mobile side — the accompanying mobile-device apps for all this online goodness only work on iPhones and iPads, leaving half of the mobile consumers who use Android platforms high and dry. Though Turner reps claim the mobile website will work just as well as the iPhone app, any mobile user knows that a dedicated app almost always delivers better performance.

On the social-media side, Rydercup.com will offer a “Tweet Battle” between Team U.S.A. and Team Europe, with a “Social Scoreboard” showing which team is winning, both online and at the course. The score will be tallied by counting the number of fans using the respective hashtags — #RyderCupUSA or #RyderCupEurope — in their social media posts. The event is also on Facebook and on Twitter, with something called “The 13th man” replacing the “Social Caddy” feature from the PGA, where you could follow a bunch of Twitter streams.

The PGA earned itself no small amount of social media self respect by not censoring messages from the PGA, especially when its parking situation at Kiawah Island resulted in a lot of angry fans and media for long delays getting out to the course. Right now it appears the site is taking a very USA-USA-USA stance, which is perhaps understandable, but probably not so appealing to European fans. Not sure if other golf fans agree but I for one would rather we see a return to the days when this competition was more collegiate and friendly, and less jingoistic. You can still compete hard without having to make it a sports equivalent of war. But I may be on the short side of that argument.

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