2012 Olympic Games Set To Transform Digital Sports Strategy
305 events. 14,000 athletes. 2,500 hours of video.The Olympic Games are on a scale incomparable to any other event. The sheer breadth and depth of sports coverage available in every country across the world simply can’t be matched.
However, with the world watching an event like the Olympics, the challenges of scale and resource limitations start to escalate rapidly. As a result, Olympic rights holders and broadcasters need to offer a robust system that can deal with the ebb and flow of usage, and match the latest developments in digital strategy.
On the one hand, operators need to be able to serve mass audiences during key live events like Usain Bolt’s attempt at breaking the record for the men’s 100 meters. But at the same time, the Olympics is all about the niche sports that viewers don’t see anywhere else. However, in a world of YouTube, Netflix and long-tail content, viewer expectations are starting to change.
The Changing Media LandscapeBeijing 2008 saw the birth of nascent digital strategies. However, the media landscape has changed significantly in the last 4 years. Strategies that were implemented for Beijing may no longer have the same level of resonance and effectiveness for the 2012 Olympic Games.
In 2008 most people only had access to slow dial-up internet, and smartphones were yet to go mainstream. However, for the 2012 Games the picture has transformed.
For the first time this year we are starting to see serious growth in mobile web. MLB.com reported that their website is now visited on more mobile devices than fixed lines, a significant change.
As a result of faster internet speeds and mobile video, viewers will no longer be forced to watch a single live stream. The changing media landscape means that people now have access to more choice than ever before. From table tennis to judo to water polo and wrestling, audiences now expect to have access to all the Olympic content – no matter how obscure.
At a recent Nesta event, the BBC explained that it will offer up to 24 live streams of sporting events during the Olympics. These streams are positioned to be available through various web, IPTV and connected TV services. Additionally, all the live content will be converted into an extensive video-on-demand library, resulting in an archive of over four and a half thousand hours of footage.
Yet even as people start to access both live and on-demand content through a variety of devices and platforms, the TV experience remains central. According to the BBC’s Lewis Wiltshire, “The BBC sport site will feel like TV, even though it’s a website.”
The true challenge for Olympics rights holders is making the content easy to find, while also helping viewers emotionally connect with the Games. The sheer awe-inspiring size of the Olympics means this will be one to watch. The way media is managed during the Games could determine best practices at future major events across the world.
What do you think will be key to digital strategies at London 2012? What will create sticking points?
Emma Wells, Marketing Manager
This post is part of our on-going blog series 'Olympics and the Future of TV'.