Today’s Google Doodle is one indication of just how excited the world is for tonight’s opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. The day has finally arrived to kick off the event that London, athletes, advertisers and brands have spent years planning and preparing for.
Ten-time Olympic medallist Carl Lewis captured the building sense of anticipation best:
“The Olympics is the only event where the world stops,” he said. “If you’re the smallest country with the fewest people in the world or the biggest country with the most people in the world, everyone’s allowed and everyone is invited, so it’s a great thing because you get to see the world and the world sees you.”
Mr. Lewis couldn’t be more right. An estimated 1 billion people around the world are expected to watch the Olympics opening ceremony and games, and this year there are more ways to watch than ever before. The 2012 Games are full of new records and firsts and we haven’t even seen what the world’s greatest athletes will do yet.
In terms of ads sales, this is the biggest Olympics ever. According to NBC Universal, its ad-dollar take for the Olympics has reached $1 billion, about $150 million more than its total take for the 2008 Beijing Games. Here are some other cool new Olympic debuts that are happening as a result of the newest technology and advertising/marketing strategies.
Live Streaming on Mobile Devices and Tablets. The iPad didn’t exist at the last Olympics, but when the games begin Friday millions of people will watch the action on tablets and smart phones. NBC Universal is live-streaming every athletic competition — more than 3,500 hours, including all 32 sports and all 302 medals — on NBCOlympics.com and, for the first time, on Androids, iPhones and iPads. Users can use the free NBC Olympics Live Extra app to watch the coverage from wherever they are on their devices. The app is free, but only customers who have a cable or satellite subscription will get full access.
The app lets users set reminders for events and share their favorite video clips on Facebook and Twitter. During live events they can switch camera views to watch from different angles and toggle between different events happening at the same time. If there is too much going at once, users can record events to watch later.
A companion app, called simply “NBC Olympics,” features additional content like athlete interviews and bios. The two apps are interconnected, so users can launch one through the other.
The pair of mobile apps is part of NBC’s far-reaching plan to roll out the Olympics on a variety of media platforms. NBC is hoping that this goes smoother than its last big streaming event, the Super Bowl. While the 2.1 million livestreams set a record for the Internet’s most watched single sports game, many users complained that the stream was blurry, choppy and had a time delay. Let’s hope that NBC learned from the Super Bowl mistakes and have worked out all the kinks over the last six months.
Social Media. Social media is changing the Olympic reporting landscape, becoming the most tweeted, blogged and reported event in history. It was around during the 2008 Games, but the numbers that are attracting sponsors this year are incredible. There were 100 million Facebook users in the 2008 Summer Games, versus 900 million this year, and roughly 6 million Twitter followers during the last Summer Games, versus about 500 million today. Dubbed the “Social Games” for the big-spending sponsors, social media is being utilized by them to reach this huge amount of users.
One of the most popular social media activities has been to follow the athletes as they go into the Games. While some will take a break from their social media accounts in order to focus, many will be tweeting and posting along the way.
To serve as a reminder to be careful what they post is the case of Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou, who was the first Olympian forced to pack her bags because of a racist tweet.
3D Olympics Coverage. Those with 3D digital televisions (and the glasses that work with it) will have the opportunity to watch the Opening and Closing ceremonies, men’s and women’s gymnastics, cycling from the Velodrome, swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, water polo, full coverage of track and field, and the medal rounds of basketball in 3D. A total of 242 hours of 3D coverage will be available over the 17 days of the Olympics (approximately 12 hours per day).
The downside to 3D coverage is that it will not be broadcast live. Instead, the events will be aired the next day on special 3D channels from DirectTV and other cable providers.
This year’s Olympic Games will last until August 12, with more than 10,000 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees participating.