The 2012 Olympic Games were pre-emptively dubbed the first true “social media” games due to the (notoriously stuffy) Olympic Committee themselves somewhat belatedly joining the world of social media by officially encouraging Athletes to use social media to communicate with the viewing public. While the “social media” part of the games have had curious results the gold medal winner in London has been the use of mobile and mobile video.
But first, the “social media games”…
The official IOC guidelines direct that Athletes communicate “in first-person, diary-type” format – i.e. via blogs, Twitter, etc. Of course, there’s a lot they can’t post – such as video, sledging the opposition or promoting the “wrong brands” (i.e. those who haven’t paid the Kings’ ransom required for exclusivity in being promoted in association with the Olympics).
In the USA, where NBC paid somewhere around the $1 billion mark for the rights, “social media” has actually turned against the broacaster with the average American’s disatisfaction with the station’s coverage leading to the creation of the #NBCFail tag trending across the nation and making casual Twitter user Steven Marx (who started the trend) a temporary celebrity.
Similarly, Channel 9 here in Australia has been blasted across Facebook and Twitter for its extremely limited and parochial coverage compared with pay-TV rival Foxtel’s eight-channel-strong dedicated Olympic coverage.
OK, so the “social media games” has been a bit hit and miss. But what has become clear has been the trend of strong use of mobile to view the coverage not just talk about it.
In response to the widespread criticism of its coverage, NBC responded that in the first week of the games it had delivered, online, 64 million video streams and 5.3 million hours of live video. What is particularly interesting is that 45 percent of this video was viewed on a combination of tablet and smartphone with 4.6 million viewers of the mobile site and 6 million downloads of the mobile app.
It’s not just in the US that mobile has proven a winner. CTV in Canada has seen 61% of its online traffic from mobile, and the BBC have found 55% of viewers of their material were using mobile devices, with 1.5 million downloads of the BBC Sport Olympic app. The BBC also report that its mobile audience so far has peaked at 2.3 million users on Wednesday when Great Britain won its first gold medal. All figures are significantly higher than those recorded during the Beijing Olympics.
Of course, Twitter has been tweeting healthily with the tweets of enthusiastic (and disappointed) Olympic watchers, but this is hardly anything new. However, the widespread, worldwide use of mobile video to watch the action is and that may just be an important milestone in the development of mobile as the “first screen”.