Just because the Olympics acknowledged the existence of twitter and Facebook does not mean the Games were “social.” We shouldn’t award any medals for social innovation.
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers found across the internet:
- 219.4 million network tv viewers
- 2 billion page views of NBC Olympic coverage
- 159 million video streams of coverage
- 8.8 million tickets sold to the Games
- 10,507 Olympic athletes
If you solely looked at the people who watched from seats at the Games, they would have to tweet about 17 times each to reach the total number of tweets. If I was sitting there, I’d tweet a heck of a lot more, but that doesn’t even factor in the 219.9 million TV viewers, or the 159 million online views.
Now factor in all the people that watched the Olympics on network TV and streaming video, that’s 2.5 tweets per viewer over two entire weeks. This doesn’t factor in the 2 billion page views to NBC’s site, or any of the other channels people found to see and talk about the games.
This is an extremely low number.
In comparison, the MTV Video Music Awards (the one in which Beyonce’s baby bump took top billing), garnered over 10 million tweets for 12 million viewers. That’s a social event!
The Olympics did nothing well to foster cool content about the games, there should’ve been more structure and a format for people to talk about their favorite events and athletes.. All conversation about social media dealt with the number of Twitter followers and Likes an athlete had. There was no conversation about what the athletes were actually saying.
And this is the point that makes me worried about social in general – there is a real lack of innovation to build interesting features and get people to communicate across the world about the games. More than just low numbers, a real opportunitiy was lost.
One Golden Idea: Photo Aggregation
There was a great interview with the photographer Chang Lee in the NYT that captures both the difficulty of his craft and the opportunity that exists for crowd participation.
Setting up for Usain Bolt’s race, it took: “about four hours. I had three cases of gear with me…There were nine runners, and out of them, seven were possible gold-medal winners. So, do I go tight on two or three? Or do I want to shoot a wider angle and have four or seven or nine? … You never know, and in a split-second decision, you can’t really get everything.”
This seems incredibly challenging, especially given the fact that there were over a hundred thousand amateur photographers (aka fans w/ phones) at the race. So wouldn’t it be great if there was an aggregator that took all photos from that one race and created a mosaic of the different angles and hundreds of different story lines that occurring at the same time?
It’s technologically possible, and way more engaging than putting all the pressure on a few professionals.
And these user photos just highlight the talent of photographers like Chang W. Lee. He would still capture moments like this:
I was also struck by his photos of the long tail sports. This is my once-in-every-four-year chance to watch world class handball.
Photos like these make me want to! So let me easily see more handball photos from people who are there.
Apparently the tape delay helps ratings. So wouldn’t it help ratings even more if Twitter was on fire with commentary throughout the day, providing a place for those less mainstream sports to be talked about as well?
We missed out on a truly global conversation. It’s time to return home and start training for 2016.