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London 2012: the First Digital Olympics Experience

The upcoming summer Olympic Games in London, England will set a precedent for the use and application of advanced digital technology -- that's from the perspective of both multimedia content producers and consumers.

The BBC says that London 2012 will be the first truly digital Games. They will ensure audiences never miss a moment, delivering unprecedented coverage across multiple digital platforms -- so that sports fans can stay up to date wherever they are, whenever they want to view the action.

The BBC will give audiences more choice, with access to:
  • Every Olympic event, sport and venue live, on-demand and interactive on bbc.co.uk/sport, with up to 24 live HD streams and 2,500 hours of coverage.
  • Pages for every athlete, sport, venue and country, enabling detailed access to real-time updated Olympics data, statistics and news.
  • High quality coverage that’s personal and social, enabling audiences to follow and favorite every athlete, sport, event and country and get tailored updates, as well as access live updates, Twitter visualizations and social media commentary.

The BBC will also offer select event highlights in 3D, and deliver the world’s first trials of a "Super Hi Vision" broadcast.

Exploring the Global Olympic Marketplace

More than 4 billion people are expected to watch the London Olympics. With video content migrating rapidly to various multimedia-capable platforms, it’s likely that at least 1 billion will view events, get updates and check results on digital devices -- including PCs, mobile phones and media tablets.

Moreover, it's anticipated that billions more people will follow and discuss the sports action on social networks.

“Like media owners and consumers, marketers too are poised to make a quantum leap for London 2012, using digital platforms as never before to inform and engage audiences,” said Karin von Abrams, senior analyst at eMarketer.

The world's big media content producers -- such as the BBC in the UK and NBCUniversal in the U.S. -- have bought exclusive rights to broadcast Olympic coverage in their home territories. NBC alone paid an estimated $1.18 billion for its rights.

Those distribution deals include digital media, and both TV broadcasters are investing enormous resources in providing online and mobile access to a huge range of high-quality material.

Given that few other media owners can match that scale of content production, the BBC and NBC will likely be the primary online sources for much of the Olympic Games global audience as well.

According to eMarketer's assessment, the big question is how much viewing and information-gathering will take place on digital platforms. Research from Deloitte indicates that between 15 percent and 26 percent of internet users in France, Germany, the UK and US will watch at least some of the games on a PC or media tablet -- and in Germany, nearly half will watch via the mobile web.


Mobile Digital Media Marketing Opportunity

If the last Summer Games in 2008 are any indication of what to expect in 2012, then mobile will likely be particularly important for those looking to check-in on event results, which is what Nielsen found to be the top mobile internet activity planned by U.S. and UK users in 2008.

The gap between event results and other coverage was particularly marked among UK respondents; nearly three-quarters said they would check results on their mobiles, while less than 40 percent planned to read articles or look at medal counts there. Clearly, mobile device technology was much less advanced in 2008.

That being said, now just consider how today's mobile handsets -- that offer far better text, graphics and UI -- will enhance the interactive digital experience.

"With weeks to go before the games, it’s too soon to know which advertisers will score big wins, which social campaigns will catch fire, and which mobile strategies will capture the public imagination," said von Abrams. "But the outlook for digital marketing during London 2012 highlights trends of relevance to brand owners everywhere, especially those who rely on event sponsorship or tie-ins to generate impact."

Behind the scenes, there's a purpose-built intelligent network that's the essential communications foundation for London 2012 event venues. The ICT infrastructure that has been deployed will surely make this "the most connected sporting event the world has ever seen."

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