Bradley-Jones, Luke

                    Ryder Cup panel

Last weekend’s Ryder Cup demonstrated yet again just how enthralling and utterly thrilling live sport can be. For golf, and sport generally, it’s really all about the live experience. Enjoying the action – and the theatre - as it unfolds, whether at home, in the pub, or out and about.

In years gone by, watching the action live often meant remaining rooted to your sofa, in front of the family TV. If you were out, perhaps you might record the action and try to get home to watch it before anyone ruined it for you be telling you the score. But even if you successfully managed that, there was still the nagging disappointment of knowing that you weren’t enjoying the action as it actually happened. And of course there was even a time, before Sky Sports, when the Ryder Cup was not even covered from start to finish.

But nowadays, due to the explosion of smartphones, tablets and laptops, multi-screen viewing is dramatically changing viewing behaviour. Fans no longer need to accept the trade-off between enjoying live sport and getting on with their busy lives.

Customer behaviour from the Ryder Cup weekend illustrates this point very powerfully. While Sky Sports 1’s coverage reached almost 5 million TV viewers during the tournament, peaking as Martin Kaymer sank the decisive putt, it was also a record-breaking weekend for Sky Go, our online and mobile TV service.

Over the course of the Ryder Cup, just over 700,000 people followed the live action through iPad, iPhone, Android devices, Xbox, PC or laptop. As Team Europe completed their heroic comeback, a peak audience of more than 200,000 were watching on online or on mobile. That’s a staggering number of Sky customers watching Europe win the Ryder Cup away from their TV at 11pm on Sunday night.

When we delve into these numbers further, we know that two-thirds of customers were using a mobile or tablet to watch the content, as opposed to their PC or games console. This suggests that hundreds of thousands of Sky Go users were reaching for their mobile device in the absence of a big screen TV or PC monitor, to ensure they didn’t miss a minute.

But smartphones and tablets aren’t just being used to access live coverage. Even those enjoying the coverage at home in HD or 3D also used their tablets to interact with Sky’s coverage. The dedicated Ryder Cup section of our iPad app enabled customers to access match stats, background information and additional camera feeds. Many tens of thousands enjoyed this companion experience, with thousands more following the action in zeebox, where they could share their thoughts and comments through social media, as well as participate in a play-along predications game.

At the same time, more 900,000 visitors came to Sky Sports’ website and mobile phone apps to keep up to date with the latest news from Medinah. That’s in addition to the 174,000 who pushed red to enjoy Sky Sports’ interactive coverage through their Sky box.

All of which confirms that customers are increasingly embracing new technologies to get more from their TV experience, whether to stay in touch with the action when on the move, or to enjoy a second screen, companion experience in the home. It may help explain why live TV, and live sport in particular, has never been in ruder health.

Sky will once again be the host broadcaster for the next Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014, and will be the exclusive live home of the world’s greatest golf competition in Minnesota in 2016 and Paris in 2018 too.

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