Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy

August 16th, 2012

By Jon Siegal, Founder and CEO, Fan Appz

Disclosure: Fan Appz customers include brands associated with the Olympics.

Yesterday I stumbled across this video of Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show, and it struck me how much it reminded me of the recent Olympic Games. From the start of the opening ceremony, the most frequent story themes and social media memes centered around everything people hated about London 2012.

Yet, by any number of measures, the Games were a tremendous success.  NBC Universal reported an average of 31.1 million viewers over 16 prime-time nights, besting the Beijing Games by 12%.

Underscoring the growth of mobile devices in the last two years, NBC’s coverage of the London Summer Olympics generated three times the number of live streams as compared to the Beijing Games four years ago. In a video the network posted Friday, Alan Wurtzel, president of research and media development for NBC Universal, said live streams had tripled to 45 million from 14 million in 2008, when tablets weren’t even part of the media landscape and smartphones were not widespread.

These are amazing statistics! I remember growing up being completely dependent on the TV broadcast and next-day newspapers to experience the games. Now, thanks to digital streaming technology and social media, the Olympic experience has been forever transformed for the better.

Here are three factors that made London 2012 amazing:

#1-The Fan chose what he/she wanted to watch

If you had Internet access and a TV subscription via Cable or Satellite, you could choose whatever sport you wanted to watch. According to NBC, over 5,535 hours of programming were available.  Fans did not have to wait for primetime or hope the network covered their favorite sports.  Whether you wanted to watch the US Women’s soccer team, water polo, or the men’s trampoline finals, the fans were in control over what they wanted to see and when.

That was a huge improvement over previous years. As with any innovation, there is room for improvement – but hardly a reason to claim an utter #fail on Olympic coverage.

#2-Direct connections to the athletes

In previous games, fans were dependent on traditional media to get athlete reactions to events.  The media decided who you would hear from and could edit what was said. But in the social games of London 2012, we were able to read and see the athletes’ real time thoughts and experiences. The Olympic Athlete’s Hub made it easy to find each athlete on their preferred network, be it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, etc.

Whether it was Gabby Douglas’ feelings after winning the gold, or Michael Phelps disappointment in losing an early race.  Between the tweets, Facebook posts and photos, we were the closest we’ve ever been to the athletes and were able to share in their experiences.

#3-A global fan community through social media

Social media not only brought the fans closer to the athletes, it also brought fans closer to one another, whether through playing the Olympic challenge game, competing in the photo contest or participating in the sweepstakes on Foursquare.

Between the Twitter pulse on NBCOlympics.com, Facebook stats on the NBC broadcast, real time comments and shared fan reactions, a global community formed around the games like never before.  By the end, 3.7 million fans had liked The Olympic Games on Facebook, 1.7 million had followed them on Twitter, 87,000 had added them on Instagram, 77,000 found them on foursquare and still more engaged on Tumblr.

With such ratings, streams and social engagement, the haters can mark their calendars for 2014 and prepare for another complaint fest, or appreciate how far along we’ve come and what an awesome experience we now have available to us.