Twitter connects New Year's Ball app with 500K users worldwide
New York's Times Square is making New Year's Eve an even more social event by integrating its Times Square Ball application with Facebook and Twitter.
The Times Square Ball application now is integrated with the Time Square Ball's Twitter and Facebook pages so tonight when the world counts down to 2014, people can post comments or photos to those social media sites via the app. The direct connection to Twitter and Facebook extends the annual ball drop's global reach even further by taking it online.
"What's great about it is we have about 1 million people in Times Square, over 150 million viewers in America and over 1 billion people watching [the ball drop] throughout the world," said Jeffrey Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment and executive producer of Times Square New Year's Eve, New York. "There's this television audience and there's this Web audience that's been growing every year.
"You can watch [the ball drop] on your phone. You don't have to be in front of the TV watching," he said. "The Times Square Ball app allows you to participate and to interact with the Times Square Ball, which also tweets."
Tweeting a ball
The Times Square Official Ball App features a six-hour webcast from the Times Square New Year's Eve event and from other worldwide locations. It includes the history of and facts about the ball drop.
The app also includes "New Year's Eve Stream" and "Times Square Ball" sections, with a call-to-action to "follow" the event via Livestream.
The social media sites attribute a human personality to the ball, so it seems as if the ball is tweeting.
For example, a recent post On the Times Square Ball Twitter page was: "One. More. Day. #balldrop"
Integrating the ball drop app and Twitter brings together two tech-savvy and mobile-engaged groups: social media users and app users.
The ball drop app can also be programmed to count down the Times Square New Year's Eve event from any time zone in the world.
Therefore, someone in Beijing can celebrate New Year's 13 hours before York, while someone in Los Angeles can celebrate three hours after the ball drop.
With the ball drop app's live stream, viewers can watch commercial-free programming in the hours leading up to the New York Times Square ball drop.
"You also see early countdowns from around the world," Mr. Straus said. "There will be practice countdowns leading up to midnight [EST - New York time].
"When you watch NBC, CBS, ABC, you see that network's focus. If you watch the webcast on the app, you see individual network [coverage] from all around world," he said.
Times Square Ball Official App screenshot
Watching live - on mobile
Annually, more than 1 million people crush into Times Square on Dec. 31 to see the ball drop. Of those, more than 20 percent reside outside the tri-state area and about 70 percent reside outside the United States.
An estimate of how many people would view the Times Square New Year's Eve event online was not available at press time.
The Times Square Official Ball app is available for free download in Apple's App Store and Google Play.
It is also available for free download on http://timessquareball.net/app/
The Times Square Ball app includes the facts about the ball and the history of the ball drop.
The actual ball is a geodesic sphere, 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 pounds.
The ball is covered with a total of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that vary in size, and range in length from four and three-fourths inches to five and three-fourths inches per side.
The ball was first lowered on New Year's Eve from its present location at 1 Times Square in 1907.
The Times Square New Year's Eve countdown is organized by the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment.
As of Dec. 30, the Dec. 31, 2012 countdown to New Year's Day 2013 live stream could be viewed on the app.
The live, six-hour commercial free webcast will cover Times Square, including the ball raising at 6 p.m. EST, Dec. 31.
App viewers can tune in whenever it is convenient.
"What the app allows you to do is be a part of this global experience and you don't have to be in Times Square," Mr. Straus said.
Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York