There is nothing like the Olympics. This is what I’ve learned after 25 years in the sport business during which I’ve been involved in most major events worldwide.
The richness and complexity of the Olympic Games provides an unparalleled scenario for the media business.
For 17 days nearly 12 hours a day, of live sport coverage will be available, with multiple events (more than 24 at times) happening simultaneously around London this summer.
The amount of results data, live video, editorial and social content created around the games will be huge and generate a mix of challenges and opportunities for all.
For technical providers:
- Challenges: Solid and sophisticated technical solutions are required to manage the throughput of the games
- Opportunities: The combination of performance and complexity means only the best companies in the business can provide valuable solutions
For media companies and broadcasters:
- Challenges: Designing digital solutions which encompass all platforms , are usable and relevant in that context
- Opportunities: Media firms and broadcasters have the chance to engage fans with incredible content for many hours. Audience, Engagement, Monetization.
- Challenges: Finding ones way in the vast amount of content whilst having control of your experience is difficult
Opportunities: Fans are enabled by providers and media firms to enjoy 17 days of the most amazing sport event, experience great content they have a strong connection with and share all this with their peers
These times are unprecedented for the games. Never before has there been an opportunity for fans to follow the Olympics at any moment during the day, wherever they are, using all available channels as provided by London 2012, rights-holding broadcasters, general and social media. Channels are the four screens: Smartphones, tablets, computers and connected TVs.
This new consumption paradigm will enable users (if they wish) to have a continuous Olympic experience throughout the day. Discovering new needs of consumption as the day develops i.e. “Check this new Olympic app on my Mobile! Look, that unknown British athlete has reached the final in that sport I’ve never followed and may win a gold, let ‘s follow it on TV tonight.”
Digital experiences should be designed with that in mind with what I call the “Holistic User Experience” approach: design which acknowledges that users will access your content wherever they want and whenever they want.
Fans are interested in different things during the Olympics, they may want to follow their country, favorite sports and favorite athlete or star, what’s on live, gold medals, fun moments.
Discovery is the big challenge for any user experience design around Olympics.
A great digital coverage will need to help fans navigate the vast amount of events happening live. Plus, it’s important to inform users what they may be interested in or passionate about which just occurred but cannot retrace. In addition, fans may want to relive those golden moments which made their heart beat faster in previous days.
Video is the crucial asset for truly engaging digital sport experiences.
One key factor in making this happen is having live video immediately available as on demand so fans can quickly go back in time or rewind what they just have seen.
Rich interactive video experienced will be increasingly based on the concept of having the data and events timeline fully synchronised. This will allow us to have two critical features:
- Displaying results and stats fully synchronised with video when watching it (e.g the ability to know standings at any time during the video)
- Populating the video player timeline with key markers and events for easy access and navigation (e.g. Imagine a full morning session of Athletics and how you would like to navigate directly to the Long Jump finals’ last 3 attempts)
Many rights-holding broadcasters will have a similar video player experience for the London Olympic Games.
I soon realized that this richness and complexity are making new trends and technologies a need, not a nice-to-have.
For Olympics, a full multi-platform experience is a need: fans want to access content continuously as events are on from 8am to 8pm.
User centric experience design is a need: fans need to be guided in the enormous amount of content so they may consume what they like.
Social engagement is a need: fans will discover new things through what their peers are talking about.
Data integrated video is a need: fans need rich digital video experiences to fully exploit the emotions of the games and understand the context.