When the NBC television network wanted a Web site for the 2008 Summer Olympics, Andrew Solmssen thought it was a great idea. But Solmssen, the head of Schematic, a Web design company that got the gig, wondered if the project would be a success.
During the course of the games in August, NBC's site registered more than 1 billion page views and 75 million video streams.
Behind the increase: Four years before, NBC had put about 250 hours of sports coverage online for the Athens Olympics. That jumped to 3,000 hours for Beijing.
"It worked because this is what people want," Solmssen said.
Riding on that success, L.A.-based Schematic's next goal is to change the way fans experience golf tournaments on PGATour.com.
Now, golf broadcasts show only a few players usually Tiger Woods and other top competitors. Most of the field never gets mentioned.
Schematic's new Shot Tracker feature, currently in testing on the PGA site, allows fans to follow the players of their choice around the course.
Solmssen calls it "a leader board on steroids." Viewers can click on a golfer's name and see a bird's-eye view of the hole being played. The viewer can follow the ball's advance to the cup.
The PGA Tour provides the data and Schematic adds diagrams. The screen also shows statistics about the player and the hole.
Schematic, which started in Los Angeles in 1999 and was purchased by advertising conglomerate WWP Group PLC in September 2007, doesn't sell advertising space on its projects. It builds the Web sites so that clients such as NBC and the PGA Tour can sell advertising. Other Schematic clients include AOL, Fox, Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
Lee Bushkell, general manager of PGATour.com, said golf presents a perfect opportunity for fans who want to monitor the sports sporadically via the Web.
"I call it broadcast-plus," said Bushkell. "We have 40 hours of tournament golf, but only 12 hours on TV. The digital platform provides coverage when there is no TV on the air, and a complementary experience when it is."
It could be a problem at the office, though.
"Businesses may not like this, but a lot of people like to follow the sport on Thursday and Friday," said Solmssen. "They can't watch TV at work, but now they can follow online."
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