London 2012: The first “social” Olympics
The 2012 Summer Olympics may be the 30th time the world event has taken place, but this year organizers are calling the event the first-ever “social” Olympic Games.
Although many of us can’t remember communicating without Facebook or Twitter, just four short years ago during the 2008 Beijing Olympics Facebook only had 100 million users, and Twitter had a mere six million. In four years those numbers have surged; today Facebook has more than 845 million members and Twitter chalks up 140 million – 20 times more than in 2008.
The Olympics are one of the most-watched sporting events – 4.7 billion people worldwide tuned into the 2008 Summer Games and 3.5 billion people tuned into the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Other large-scale sporting events – like the Super Bowl – have seen dramatic rises in social sharing. For example, there were 12.8 million social media comments on Super Bowl Sunday in 2012 – a 600% increase from the previous year. If the Super Bowl is any indication, we can expect to see massive amounts of social media participation during the London games.
NBC has scheduled an unprecedented 5,535 hours of programing, which is nearly 2,000 more hours than the Beijing games. The content will be spread across multiple channels (NBC, CNBC, Bravo, MSNBC, and the NBC Sports Network) and can be streamed online and via two mobile apps (NBC Olympics Live Extra and NBC Olympics).
This is the first time that NBC’s coverage of the Olympics will be officially integrated with Twitter, which will serve as the official narrator of the games. This means that all broadcasts will reference the @NBCOlympics Twitter account, preview Twitter conversations with athletes, and encourage other social media activity from viewers.
There are dozens of other official social media channels that viewers can utilize. They can talk with other viewers through the #London2012 hashtag and interact with American athletes through the U.S. Olympic team’s social media accounts (@USOlympic on Twitter and US Olympic Team on Facebook) and athlete’s personal accounts. Four-time Olympian and U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) has more than 260,000 Twitter followers while two-time Olympian and U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones (@LoloJones) has more than 160,000.
While social media will revolutionize the 2012 Olympics, it will inevitably lead to lots of spoilers for the people who prefer tuning into NBC’s prime-time coverage. Those who don’t want to know the results ahead of time should stay away from social media for the next 16 days. Good luck with that!
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