Thursday, August 07, 2008

How to Experience the Olympics Online...

The internet is about to change the way most of us experience the Olympics, just as it has with other major media events over the past decade.

As this ReadWriteWeb article describes, social media marketing is taking over Olympic coverage. Advertisers like McDonalds and Coca-Cola are rolling out interactive online promotional tools like alternate reality games, wikis, and YouTube sites to "subtly push to associate their brand with the Olympics 'spirit'".

There are also efforts being made online to foster direct communication between the athletes and the public. Lenovo has set up blogs for 100 Olympic athletes, and it really is interesting reading. It's the Olympics seen through the eyes of the participants. Share in the giddiness as a field hockey player spots celebrity pro-athletes in a dining hall that's the size of 6 football fields, join in one cyclist's questioning whether it's the pollution, mist or clouds that makes it impossible for him to see further than 400 meters, or sense the joy in one tri-athlete's enthusiastic log of his last few days of training as he and a friend stage a mustache-growing contest leading up to the big day.

Alternatives to how we watch the games themselves are also being rolled out. While, in the United States, NBC has exclusive rights to all televised Olympic coverage, check out this list of video-enabled websites that will be offering various forms of coverage as well. It includes everything from YouTube to the BBC to BitTorrent downloads for your iPod - and a whole lot more.

Plus, this is just the start. The real power of social media won't be fully evident until the games get underway and there are actual events for people to start blogging, digging, and twittering about. Just pity that inevitable gymnastics judge who gives some American athlete a lowball score because, as we are about to see, hell hath no fury greater than the Facebook generation.


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