If you can't experience New Year's Eve 2014 from Times Square, or just want to watch the ball drop on your smartphone or tablet, there is the official 2014 Times Square Ball app. Available for Android and Apple devices, the app lets users livestream the six-hour New Year's Eve celebration, complete with all the musical performances, and interact with revelers. And of course, count down to the ball drop.
International Business Times spoke with Jeffrey Strauss, president of Countdown Entertainment, about the development of the 2014 Times Square Ball app as well as some new features that will enhance the experience for users.
New Year's Eve in Times Square is one massive celebration, as a million revelers make their way to New York City to watch the ball drop. Prior to the countdown, fans can experience musical performances and share the moment with new friends. It's a unique experience that the Times Square Ball app has to translate for users on their smartphones and tablets. Strauss said of the event, "I've been doing this since 1995. When I started, the event was the ball coming down a flagpole with some confetti. Today, it's a six-hour, 20-minute multimedia event with everything from Chinese cultural performances to country music stars to big pop stars to Latin performances and all these revelers that come here."
According to Strauss, the app lets users experience the New Year's Eve 2014 celebration on their smartphone or tablet just like a reveler would in Times Square. "What's amazing to me is, the people at home, they see it through the filter of the network they are watching. Whether it be ABC, Fox News Channel, CNN, NBC, MTV, they're all here but they are showing their audience their niche. Whereas, if you watch our webcast, you get to see everything that's happening here and really get to be a part of the whole 6 hour-plus event," said Strauss.
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Thanks to smartphone technology advancements, users can livestream massive events without losing much in terms of quality. For Strauss, these improvements made the Times Square Ball app possible and lets users enjoy the celebration on the go. The app was developed to take advantage of how people use their smartphone. "People are using mobile devices for social media and video and the New Year's Eve Times Square Ball app allows for both of those things," said Strauss. The 2014 Times Square Ball drop has been streamlined to let users easily access the New Year's Eve live stream and interact with other users on social media.
The ability to talk to the Times Square Ball itself is perhaps Strauss's favorite feature. The ball has its own Twitter account and shares views of Times Square and also interacts with users. This feature creates a way to engage with users, giving the event a new personality and enhancing the user experience. NASA has had great success with giving their missions a personality, such as Curiosity's Twitter account that features over a million followers, and other companies have followed suit.
"The ball has its own personality. It's a little sassy, it's been on top of that building all year long, looking down on us but having a great time. It has a whole mythology about his father being in the medical field as a medicine ball, his mom is an elementary school and he has a rivalry with the Rockefeller Christmas tree, who is the brightest star in December," said Strauss.
The app lets users experience New Year's Eve in unison, making the celebration a global event. "What's amazing to me is we are not just talking Americans because New Year's Eve is an international, global celebration. We have a million people here in Times Square, 20 percent are international, 70 percent from outside of the Tri-State area, over 150 million Americans watch the event throughout the country and over a billion people from around the world will see it live or through news coverage," said Strauss.
How will Strauss experience New Year's Eve 2014 himself? He will be in Times Square with his wife. One of his favorite traditions is grabbing a wish, collected throughout the year and mix it with the confetti that rains down on the revelers.