The first multi-screen Olympics

Posted on 08. Aug, 2012 by in Stats & Trends

Has this been the first social media Olympics?

The figures look good. Twitter saw more tweets in a single day than the entire 2008 Beijing Games. However, NBC has been using a tape delay in the States, not broadcasting events live, showing coverage later and at strategically calculated times instead. This has led to a social media backlash but  NBC actually doing surprisingly well in the TV ratings.

NBC’s strategy certainly has influenced the social media layer to the Olympics; causing debate and dividing commentary between live and taped airings. Combine that with LOCOG’s enthusiastic policing of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 and I will admit that I’m not sure the social aspects of the Olympics have been as big as they could have been.

What strikes me clearly is the role that multiple screens have had in this Olympics. This certainly is the first multi-platform Olympics and perhaps the first multi-platform global sporting event too. Have you checked your phone or your tablet for anything related to the Olympics?

During the Opening Ceremony Google noticed a surge in searches for Paul McCartney when the British legend appeared for a performance of Hey Jude. Their published data does not just show the effect of the tape delay but also the breakdown of desktop, tablet and smartphone.

It’s good to see Google separating smartphone from tablet.

Google notes that they’ve seen multi-screen events before such as the Oscars, Super Bowl and the Eurovision. My own reflection is how Twitter has transformed the Eurovision from a celebration of the kitsch to a musical, crowd sourced, comedy that is fun to take part in. It’s been an evolution.

The Olympics, however, are even bigger. Google uses the phrase “pronounced trend” to describe, at a global level, how the games have been viewed. They’ve even produced an infographic.

You can see just how near the 50% mark some of these countries are. In Japan mobile is more significant than desktop when it comes to the Olympics.

Looking ahead to Rio 2016 I will predict even more multi-platform action. There will be more smartphone users and more tablet users in the world. The biggest difference in 2016 might be the rise of the connected TV and audiences watching the next summer games over internet-enabled, interactive, large screens.

If you had to make a prediction how would you divide the 2016 Rio games between smartphone, tablet, desktop and connected TV? 25% each?

Andrew Girdwood is the Media Innovations Director for LBi. As a result he gets to talk about the Olympics at work, for work.

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