The Beijing Olympics have definitely been the most controversial for media coverage already, and they haven’t even occurred yet. No matter what your thoughts on China and their human rights issues, etc, there will definitely be a major winner at these 2008 Olympics Games – Social Media. The Digital Age has meant that this Olympic Games will be accessible to the largest viewing and consuming audience of all-time.
NBC will offer 3,600 hours of coverage of the Aug. 8-24 Games, triple its offering from the Athens Games, and about a third of this will be streamed over the internet. In February, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would allow blogging by athletes for the first time at this year’s Games. 3G mobile phone technologies could also have a huge impact on the Olympics, allowing athletes and visitors in the Chinese capital to communicate their experiences to those back home. YouTube, the video-sharing megasite will only get a sliver of the coverage. The content, including highlight reels and daily wrap-ups but not live coverage, will reach 77 territories — South Korea, India and Nigeria among them — that aren’t officially covered by Olympic sponsors. Users in the U.S. and other markets where the IOC has sold digital video-on-demand rights on an exclusive basis will be blocked from viewing the footage.
So what does this all mean? The barriers to access and exposure are being torn down. The world will be able to decide which events and sports they want to consume, giving lesser known sports a greater share of the spotlight via streaming video on (IOC approved) Web sites and digital television. It will also mean greater transparency on the events and happenings surrounding the games and their host country. No matter how tight of reigns the host country’s handlers may be as to what the media can cover, the rise in digital technology has empowered citizen journalist to report on what concerns them.
The increasing number of people watching video online has been a challenge for Olympics organizers.
While new media channels, from blogging to online video sharing, could expand viewership of the Games, they also make it more difficult for organizers to control exclusive content, for which sponsors pay billions of dollars. These advertisers are confident that the gains will outweigh any problems that may happen from a PR standpoint, as what happened with the torch parade protests.
Marketing research is forecasting that over 90% of the Chinese population will view the Olympics and the sponsors associated with them in a favorable light. That is huge for companies such as Coca-cola, Nike, and Adidas, which are looking to dominate the market in China. On average, it is forecasted that all of the advertisers in China will spend 19 percent more in 2008 than a year earlier to about $54.3 billion from their previous ad spends. In addition, Olympic sponsors alone will spend 21.8 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) this year, rising 52 percent from 2007, just to attract the Chinese Market.
In the U.S., there is hardly a platform NBC isn’t tapping for Olympics coverage. Through a content agreement Thomson’s Premier Retail Networks, NBC Olympics highlights will run on high definition screens in more than 5,000 retail locations, including the check-out line in more than 2,000 grocery stores.
So, how will you watch the Olympics this year? The countdown to 08/08/08 is almost complete, try not watching the Olympics on your favorite social media platform, I dare you!