Regardless of how they would have scripted it, they definitely wouldn’t have drawn it up like this.
Back in February, we at TennisConnected gave you an early look at one of the newest and most promising apps available to the tennis fan, the TennisONE app. Welcome to the future, we had called our review, and you can read it in full here. Well, a mere month or so after we wrote about this beloved future coming right up, it all came crashing down.
Look, we’re not here to rehash the good and bad—mostly bad—that came once the 2020 calendar reached the month of March. We’ve all experienced the misery together, at a socially-safe distance of course, and the sooner we can leave it all behind us the better we’ll feel about it all.
But the folks behind TennisONE had visions of grandeur for what they expected that their app could be and could become—nay, would become—and the COVID-19 pandemic completely upended those plans in a matter of days.
That’s right, the TennisONE app was overnight stuck launching a new app in the middle of a tennis season that was halted for six full months. This was especially grueling because from the jump, the marketing plan relied on big activations in Charleston and Miami—two events that were quickly called off once tennis put its season on hold.
All of a sudden they needed to compel tennis fans to give the app a reason to give it a chance, to understand that TennisONE could provide them with value in a time when this didn’t seem possible because there weren’t any matches played.
What can you do if and when that happens?
Well, you pivot like hell and in the case of the folks behind this app, the pivot was three-fold. First, they recruited pro players from both the ATP and WTA to run live streams inside the app and rely on their huge followings to give fans and users a reason to download the app.
What do you need to do next? Once you have fans on the app then you need to keep them there. To this point the app’s CrowdVIEW Live played a pivotal role. TennisONE mentions that the groundbreaking feature combines live-stream, face-to-face watch parties and video technology. Former pro and former Maria Sharapova coach Sven Groeneveld mentions that, “CrowdView Live really allows you to interact live with your fans, and that connection I believe is the future.”
Still, there was more, TennisONE signed 9 sponsors who promoted their brands and spoke directly with their target consumers directly inside all of the mobile app’s video platforms.
The interview series that upped their game
A true tour de force and in hindsight a real shining decision was to have TennisONE’s Chief Content and Business Development Officer Randy Master launch and host the Changeover Chat interview series, which started on April 4th not long after the tennis season was upended with a chat with World Team Tennis CEO Carlos Silva and which carried on all the way through to the end of the year. “Our CEO Kristin Geer asked me if I wanted to host a show where the focus was less on Tour players and more on the tennis industry power brokers that shape the sport,” Master says. “Forty guests later and here we are – [Geer] gave me the shot and I guess I’ve become pretty good it.”
Sven Groenveld Testimonial:
Fast forward nine months and the Changeover Chats have been an undeniable success, with guests from all walks of the tennis world sitting down and giving insight into what grinds their gears or doesn’t about the sport.
The guests have ranged from the knowledgeable and superstars of Pam Shriver, Stacey Allaster to the plugged-in reporters of Jon Wertheim and Christopher Clarey—and everyone in between, notably desk hosts Bill Macatee, Chris McKendry and Steve Weissman.
Overall, it’s been pretty thrilling to see a brand new app manage to implement a brand new series of interviews and to make it such a staple that they convince guests with the resume and notoriety of a Brad Gilbert to sit down with them for a wide-ranging conversation. On top of this, Rachel’s Racket, an original show that Rachel Stuhlmann has hosted on the app and on-site at the Delray Beach Open, at the World Team Tennis and the Top Seed Open, quickly became a fan favorite.
You can, of course, catch every other staple of this app that we deemed the Facebook of tennis on the app back in February.
You know that thing about lemons and lemonade? It holds up for tennis mobile apps too, apparently. Maybe that’s the lesson here: don’t be afraid to pivot or reinvent yourself if needed.
Good things can and will come if you do it right.