The 2012 Summer Olympics in London was a watershed moment for digital media in sports. The first truly digital Olympic Games, London 2012 precipitated a flood of second-screen applications and innovative online experiences as companies battled for the attention of a globally connected audience.
In 2012 there were 15 million downloads of the official London Olympics app, and 60 percent of visits to the London 2012 website came from mobile devices. During the Games, over 150 million Olympic-related tweets and 100 million Facebook comments were posted as the planet digitally engaged with a single event on a previously unprecedented scale.
The 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro is set to take digital fan engagement to the next level. If London 2012 was the first digital Olympics, then Rio 2016 could be the first genuinely multi-platform Games, with content being consumed across a range of channels and multiple devices.
Smartphone and second-screen usage is now commonplace across a broad demographic range, with 85 percent of likely Olympic viewers using additional devices as they watch TV, according to Global Web Index. Statistics such as these highlight the importance of innovative digital services to organizations seeking to build an engaging strategy around the 2016 Olympics.
Second-screen applications provide Olympic audiences with advanced statistics, compelling data visualizations and the chance to take part in a variety of interactive fantasy contests. Helping brands and media organizations stand out from the crowd by delivering unique content, second-screen apps were a major feature of the 2012 Olympics and look set to be at the forefront of coverage of the 2016 Games.
Creating space for targeted ads and sponsorships, second-screen apps can lead to immediate return on investment while simultaneously building a significant online audience. A lucrative platform for generating advertising revenue, mobile apps are a necessity for media organizations seeking to engage audiences with content while generating significant revenue streams. NBC Universal, an official broadcast partner of the Olympic Games, expects to exceed $1 billion in advertising sales across its platforms during the Games, an example of just how valuable additional and diversified digital services can be.
Major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have continued to grow over the last four years, making Rio 2016 likely to break the records for social media engagement set in London four years ago. Facebook now has over 1.5 billion active users (approximately 20 percent of the global population) and Twitter 316 million, approximate increases of 300 million and 130 million respectively since 2012.
As August marked one year until the games in Rio de Janeiro, it was reported that the official 2016 Olympics social media channels grew their reach as much as 17 percent in a single day. As social media activity grows and intensifies as the Games draw closer, a strong and engaging online presence will be crucial for brands and media organizations looking to take advantage of the global interest in the 2016 Olympics.