For Fans of Drier Weather, IBM Delivers U.S. Open Video to the iPhone

By Carolyn Braff

Golf fans who chose not to sit in the rain-drenched bleachers at Bethpage Black last weekend had the opportunity to watch the U.S. Open unfold on their iPhones. This year, for the first time, IBM powered a free iPhone application that put live video and up-to-date statistics from the U.S. Open course into the hands of golf fans everywhere.

“The thing that makes this application really different is the fact that we have live streaming video,” explains John Kent, program manager in the worldwide sponsorship and marketing group at IBM. “We had marquee-group coverage for round one and round two and coverage of the 17th hole for round three and round four.”

The streaming video offered on the iPhone application was the same feed produced for USOpen.com, so no separate production crew was required.

“We get the video from the source, right out of the shared production truck on-site,” Kent says. “We then encode it and ship it out to our content-distribution network.”

The feed was configured for three formats — for a WiFi connection on the iPhone or Edge, and for 3G — “so three different specs were required,” Kent says. The application worked on the new iPhone 3.0 OS but was built to previous specifications so that it could function on the iPhone as well as on the iTouch.

In addition to the video, the application offered real-time scores, news, course details, and information about the players.

The application was in development for a few months before the U.S. Open teed off. Before that, the IBM team had been focused on building out a similar application for the Masters Golf Tournament.

“There were no appreciable differences between the two,” Kent says. “They both had live video and real-time scores. We work with various properties; we’re at Wimbledon right now, and we’ll be at the U.S. Open tennis. There are discussions about doing something similar on the mobile platform for that event as well.”