The Social Olympics
As a bit of a social media geek, I loved following tweets and chatting online about Olympic events as I watched the action unfold. Dubbed by organisers as 'The Social Olympics', applications like Twitter have been used in way not seen before at any Olympics.
In excess of 150 million Olympic tweets were sent around the world during the 16 days of sport, with the highlight being the men's 200 metre final, which saw 80,000 tweets sent into the Twittersphere per minute!
The scandal of NBC's time-shifted coverage was also scrutinized on social media as updates on winners and events were available in real time, long before races were aired on US TV, resulting in a vigorous backlash for the network online. The coverage offered by the network was the same for the Olympics in 2008 and, despite the negative reactions, NBC's viewing ratings were still strong. In fact, NBC announced that its coverage of the London Olympics was the most watched television event in US history, with four million more viewers tuning in than for the Beijing games.
In comparison, the BBC offered viewers as many as 24 live feeds during the games in conjunction with normal reporting. Its aim was to broadcast every second of every event as it happened. During the first six days of events alone, over 45 million people tuned into the BBC coverage, with 17 million going on to watch a stream via the red button. Millions also accessed streaming via internet browsers, on their mobile phones and through the BBC Olympics App.
This success surely negates the minor criticisms of the BBC mainly in terms of their focus on British athletes in their coverage and questions over their impartiality. Following this summer's games, the London Legacy channel, launched by Highflyer, will attempt to continue in the wake of the BBC's success by showing 24 different Olympic sports 24 hours a day.
It seems that we are putting more pressure on our media providers to not only give us both instant information via social media and live streaming, but also the chance to provide specialist content. The men's 100 metre final, which was over in less than ten seconds, would not have been the spectacle it was without the hours of build up from TV pundits, profiles of the runners and information on past results.
So what social media developments will the next Olympics hold? A picture speaks a thousand words, so it is not wholly surprising that we have witnessed the explosion of the popularity of photo sharing applications, such as Instagram and Pinterest. With increasing numbers of people gaining access to the mobile web, these applications are easier to maintain and use on the go. It may be that we make the leap from photo sharing on our mobile applications to video sharing in the coming years...the countdown to Rio 2016 is on.