Time zones and distance are no match for technology and social media. The Olympics this year are set to be the most available ever as London 2012 gets underway with 3,500 hours of real-time streaming, unprecedented interaction with athletes, and 3D coverage. No stranger to technological advancements, the 1896 Athens Olympics was followed via newspapers, but by the 1936 Berlin Olympics the event was covered by 2,500 radio broadcasts in 28 languages. The first live satellite television broadcast to 40 countries occurred with the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and the first dedicated web page for the event debuted for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
In this new century the games can be experienced as they happen, through the eyes of the attendees and athletes. US rower Susan Francia has already published a Facebook album capturing the journey and preparations of her team and their boat, Bessy, in their first few days at London 2012. The International Olympic Committee is even acknowledging the power of social media, creating Olympic Athletes Hub where fans can connect with the Facebook and Twitter feeds of present and past Olympic Athletes and ask questions in special forums. Other official interaction points include Tumblr, Instagram (@Olympics) & Google+.
Outside direct interaction with the games and their participants, the event is now more accessible to the world as broadcasts will be available all over the globe with no time delay. The International Olympic Committee YouTube channel will be streaming 10 live feeds plus a 24-hour Olympic News Channel to 64 territories where broadcast rights haven’t been sold. These are primarily African and Asian areas where coverage of the events has been largely unavailable in previous years.
For those areas that are covered by traditional broadcast media; NBC, Facebook, and Yahoo are making coverage available via Internet and apps as well as traditional broadcast. Streaming coverage from NBC will be available at nbcolympics.com as well as their “NBC Olympics Live Extra” app for iOS and select Android devices. Facebook has partnered with NBC to be the social media arm of the broadcaster and engage viewers in conversation. Yahoo Sports will have breaking news, photos, highlights, reporting and analysis presented on its web properties, apps and via HDTVs running the Yahoo Connected TV operating system.
Even with all of the focus and frenzy around the Internet, TV will still be the primary consumption point for US viewers, per a survey from Techbargains.com. Of the 1,330 people surveyed, 94% will watch on TV, 46% on laptops, 39% on desktops, 31% on tablets, and 27% on smartphones. To get a visual breakdown of American interaction with the Olympic Games, see the Techbargains.com infographic for all their survey results.
No matter how you choose to participate, the Olympics are certainly more available to every global citizen than ever before. There is no telling what other media channels will be available by the time the 2020 Olympics are held in Instanbul, Tokyo or Madrid.
Snap-happy athletes capture arrival at London 2012 – Olympic.org
Facebook, NBC Strike Gold in Olympic Coverage – Read Write Web
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