I wonder whether it was a man or woman who thought to do this. Either way, I’m not complaining.
Despite tickets being sold out and nearly impossible to get (and really expensive for those who did manage to score some), I noticed so many empty seats during the first few days of the Olympics.
“What’s up with that?” I wondered while watching swimming, volleyball and gymnastics. Not only were whole blocks of seats empty, but they were the good, lower-level ones. It bothered me instantly, before I even knew or understood why it was that way.
Given that they were the hottest seats with the best views, I figured that they belonged to the corporate sponsors who never seem to give a shit about the event. I’ve been to countless Heat games where I’ve watched the corporate big-shots show up halfway through the second quarter and sit in their courtside seats for about 40 minutes before leaving in the third quarter. I love these people when it allows me to upgrade my seat and move closer after they leave, but mostly they just annoy me.
I felt bad for the athletes who didn’t have the full house that they deserve to cheer them on and create hype during the biggest performances of their lives. I felt awful for their friends, spouses and family members who should’ve been filling these seats, but couldn’t get tickets. Lastly, I felt bad for anyone else in London who was unable to get tickets through the complicated lottery process but would’ve loved to be there. Give those tickets away to local kids, college students, charities, soldiers, anyone. It would’ve made their year. The organizers in London may not have anticipated this problem while planning, but since they had all those empty seats, why not upgrade those in the nosebleed sections to make the venue at least appear to be full?
It turns out I wasn’t the only one who noticed and was annoyed. Commentators noted the unfilled seats—12,000 in all– and many people, including several Olympic athletes, turned to social media websites like Twitter to express their anger.
Indian tennis player, Mahesh Bhupathi, tweeted: “Been trying for 6 hours now to buy my wife a ticket to watch me play tomorrow. Still no luck, and the grounds here feel empty. Absurd!!!”
Irish swimmer Barry Murphy tweeted: “Hundreds of empty seats again in the Aquatic Centre. My parents would’ve given an arm and leg to get in.”
Since this outrage an investigation has been launched by Locog, the organizer of the London Games. It comes after they have faced a lot of criticism for the number of seats given to—you guessed it—corporate sponsors as well as Olympic officials and “VIP guests.”
A spokesperson for Locog said: “We are aware that some venues had empty seats. We believe the empty seats are in accredited seating areas, and we are in the process of finding out who should have been in the seats and why they weren’t there.”
There are many theories and ideas as to why so many seats were left unfilled during the Olympic events, including the following:
The London Olympic Organizers did end up giving British troops and schoolchildren free tickets, but a lot of damage has already been done. While I find it easy to blame most of the issue on Locog giving too many tickets to corporate sponsors, some major sponsors including Coca Cola, Visa and McDonalds have issued statements denying that they have failed to use their allocated tickets. The fiasco has turned out to be a huge embarrassment for Locog and the city of London, and I cannot wait to hear what the investigation turns up.
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.