Tennis

French Open digital treats served from Bristol

The French Open occupies a big space on ESPN2 this week and next, but it’s not a 24/7 offering.

By contrast, for ESPN’s digital audience, the year’s second tennis Major is always being served. News, reviews, highlights, analysis, discussion. . . it’s all just a click away, anytime, anywhere.

To provide the best in online coverage, the hard work of the ESPN2 crew in Paris bears fruit beyond the linear (TV) presentation. It fuels the digital offerings being prepared in Bristol.

“When tennis is off ESPN-TV, we want to still be the source for tennis fans,” said Rachael Flatt, associate producer, digital media.

To that end, Flatt marries the written word of ESPN.com’s writers – Matt Wilansky, Greg Garber and Jim Caple this week, others through the year – with video. This work began a week before the tournament when she taped 16 video segments with Prim Siripipat and Garber. With play underway, the video includes highlights of the action on the iconic red clay (La Terre Bateau) of Roland Garros plus interviews and discussion taken from the ESPN2 telecasts.

Also, she works with the TV crew on three daily, sponsored segments taped specifically for the digital audience – Digital Serve, 5 Things We Learned and 60-Second Slice.

Those offerings and more (promos, opens, bumps, etc.) are also used for social media – @ESPNTennis with 171,000 followers on Twitter and on Facebook. Flatt’s colleagues on site do the tweeting and posting.

If you are getting the sense that her group places a priority on video, you are correct.

“Video provides the best experience for the users,” Flatt said. “It attracts them, informs them, enhances the written word and is quickly followed by another video to keep them longer. We want video with all our big stories.”

For the French Open, Flatt is at work at 5 a.m. ET, and with the late-setting summer sun allowing play to go on well into the Parisian evening, working on the daily recaps keeps her busy until 5 p.m. or so.

Outside the Australian, French and US Opens and Wimbledon, she works on the year-round weekly tennis-centric shows Center Court and Tech it Out which looks at the latest in shoe, racquet and even clothing technology.

In addition to tennis, Flatt’s usual routine involves creating video and securing guests to accompany breaking news of all sorts on ESPN.com.

The Connecticut native is a big tennis fan, so she enjoyed working on the Australian version of SportsCenter with its emphasis on the sport when she joined ESPN in 2011 straight out of Hofstra University.

A year later, Flatt moved to the digital side, and was more than happy to be assigned to tennis as part of her duties.

“We can wear as many hats as we want to,” Flatt said, “so it is always fun and challenging.”

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