Now that the Super Bowl is over, it’s time to turn our attention to the ultimate sports phenomenon – that of course, is the Olympics. The 2010 Vancouver Games are being dubbed Canada’s first digital Olympics, thanks to the digital technology and new media that will connect viewers and fans from around the globe. Perkins Miller, Senior VP of Digital Media Olympics for NBC Universal told Cisco that in 2008, NBC’s goal was to simply deliver the games on digital platforms. This time around, he said, NBC is focusing on using that technology to capture the culture and excitement from the fans as well.
This year, digital media will play a huge part in how we experience the Games, making the events and athletes more accessible than ever before. Instead of being seen as somewhat untouchable and unattainable, these athletes can show their fans that they’re just like everyone else. And with live, high quality video, viewers 5,000 miles away can view their favorite events and pretend like they’re actually there.
Twitter Growth – When the Beijing Games were in full swing in August 2008, Twitter saw only 2.5 million hits per month, with an average of 200 million tweets per month. It sounds impressive, but compared to today’s numbers – more than 23 million hits and 1.2 billion tweets per month – Twitter will no doubt have a profound effect on Olympic information and viewership in 2010. The athletes themselves who are Twitter users will be able to give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on in Vancouver; additionally, breaking news about events will be able to reach millions of people in a matter of seconds, making it easier for fans to receive and disseminate information. Though it’s been reported that Twitter use is slowing down, the Olympics may just be able to give it the boost it needs to get out of this slump.
iPhone Apps – Something that viewers always have trouble with during Olympic season is knowing when their favorite events will be on. With time zone differences and multiple events happening at once, it can be easy to lose track and miss out on the excitement. To curb this confusion – and retain as many viewers as possible – NBC has created its own free iPhone app to give fans real-time updates of news, medal counts, and event programming. Bell, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, and official sponsor of the Vancouver Games, has also released its own app, which is geared toward event attendees. iPhone and iPod-less fans can add Google’s “Games Gadget” to their iGoogle page, which also features medal counts, TV schedules, and up-to-date news about all things Olympics.
Streaming and Online Video – Canadian network CTV will be streaming every moment of the games live on CTVolympics.ca, in an effort to ramp up viewership and also embrace digital trends. Viewers in the United States can tune to NBCOlympics.com or MSN.com, which will both be hosting over 400 hours of live event coverage, and 1,000 hours of on-demand, streaming HD video content. Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium has also developed a number of Internet browser tools to collect, download, and deliver up-to-date Olympic news right to users’ desktops.
User Generated Content – CTV will also have a site for users to upload their own content, much like CNN’s iReport community, which will also be hosting user-generated Olympic coverage. NBC is providing athletes with Flip video cameras to document their own footage, which will be uploaded to the network’s site throughout the Games. In the coming weeks, YouTube will dominate social networks with these historic moments yet to come, enabling fans to relive them again and again.
Editor Imran Amed of the popular blog The Business of Fashion wrote last week, “… like it or not, this is the first truly social media Olympics. A digital footprint of these games will be left for eternity on countless Facebook pages and Twitter streams. It is the first time that athletes, hailing from more than 80 countries, will be tweeting their experiences from the sidelines while spectators share their experiences in real-time, uploading photos and videos, documenting every Olympic second for their friends and family back at home.” In just a few short years, the way we view and experience the Olympics has changed dramatically, which begs the question – what’s in store for 2012?