The 2016 Olympics will be the most tech-savvy yet, with Google, Microsoft, Samsung and other large companies announcing their involvement with the games this past week. Smaller tech companies can learn from these examples and adapt their own resources to leverage the buzz around events.
As the 2016 cauldron is lit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday, millions of viewers will tune in to watch more than 10,000 athletes compete in over 300 events in 42 different sports. The Olympics is rivaled only by the World Cup when it comes to viewership numbers, with an average primetime viewership of 21.4 million for the Sochi games. And 61.8 million users consumed digital content from NBC for that event.
This year, 85% of Olympic viewers plan to use second-screen devices during the games, according to Global Web Index. Users can download the NBC Sports app free on Android, iOS, Roku, Amazon, Windows 10 tablets, Xbox, Windows Phone, PC and Mac to access news, highlights and programming.
Take a look at how three tech giants are providing Olympics coverage, with tips for your company on taking advantage of large events.
For the second time, Microsoft Azure will provide cloud encoding and hosting with video workflows for the Olympics. It will also offer live and on-demand streaming services for NBCUniversal and NBCOlympics.com's 4,500 hours of online content, making it easier for viewers to find relevant content and recommendations on any device, said Sudheer Sirivara, General Manager of Azure Media Services at Microsoft.
Rio presents a challenge to livestreaming—it will have three times the number of events that Sochi had, and since the time zone is only an hour later than Eastern time, it will likely have many more US viewers. But, "the cloud is ready for Olympic-scale events," Sirivara said.
"The other big trend and difference between Sochi and Rio is that beyond mobile devices and tablets, we're also seeing connected TVs," Sirivara said. "NBC wants to deliver the highest quality video possible, especially because these sticks are often connected to the biggest TVs in the home." Because of this, Azure will increase its resolution to 1080p for TV platforms.
Online will offer a different experience from broadcast, as users can select any sport they want to tune into, regardless of whether or not it is on the television broadcast. "People will have the flexibility to watch whatever event they want at their own convenience, on their devices as well as their connected TVs," Sirivara said, such as table tennis and specific gymnastics events.
- Here's what you can learn: "Bring in partners if you have gaps in your workflow," Sirivana suggested. For the Olympics, Microsoft is partnering with Adobe to build in ads to the livestream. Also, find out what tech a local event might need, and offer to fill that space for them, he added. For example, if a local restaurant is hosting a viewing party, can you provide the tech for it?
Google will be adding the event schedule, medal counts, and athlete information in its Search function. It will also allow users to get results and view TV schedules in more than 30 countries, and watch official broadcasters' event highlights on YouTube in more than 60 countries. Users of the Google app on Android and iOS can get automatic updates of top event and medal wins.
Rio streets and Olympic venues are now on Google Maps for viewers to virtually explore, along with 360-degree panoramas using Street View. Google also partnered with eight of Rio's top cultural institutions to create an interactive online collection of the city's famous art exhibits and landmarks.
- Here's what you can learn: Google is expanding on existing technologies to provide Olympics coverage. Tech companies can consider: What existing assets do you have that can be leveraged? Are you set up in a way that you can use those assets for a newsworthy event? Do you have designated staff who can plan to use those assets for a news event?
Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S7 edge Olympic Games Limited Edition smartphone—12,500 of which will be delivered to all Rio 2016 Olympians. A limited number are available now at Best Buy for consumers, and come preloaded with Olympics-themed apps and wallpapers.
For the first time, NBC will offer virtual (VR) reality coverage of the Olympic games, exclusively to authenticated users of Samsung Galaxy smartphones together with Samsung Gear VR, via the NBC Sports app. Some 85 hours of VR programming will be available, including the opening and closing ceremonies, men's basketball, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, and fencing. All VR programming will be presented on delay from August 6 (the day after the Opening Ceremony) through August 22 (the day after the games conclude).
- Here's what you can learn: Samsung made small changes and released a limited edition version of a new, in-demand product. Can you rebrand any of your products in conjunction with a coming event? Do you have a niche technology that can be utilized to consume event content?
More tips for tech leaders
Dahlia El Gazzar, founder of event tech consulting firm DAHLIA+, offered the following three tips for any tech company looking to leverage the power of a large event like the Olympics:
- Improve your data analytics.
- Curate user-generated content, and filter the content on a personal level so that you can focus on exactly the type of content you want, be it photos, articles, or videos.
- Create local meetups, or events within the event. Use social networking to make new connections.
"For smaller tech companies—be niche, be consistent, do what you do best, target hard, promote what you are doing," El Gazzar said. "Gain social media influencers that are in love with what you are delivering, and have them be your messengers about what you do and why."
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- The 2016 Olympics will be the most tech-savvy yet, with Google, Microsoft, Samsung and other large companies announcing their involvement with the games this past week, setting examples for other tech companies to follow.
- This year, 85% of Olympic viewers plan to use second-screen devices during the games, according to Global Web Index. There will also be far more viewers and games than the Sochi Olympics.
- Tech companies might consider bringing in partner organizations, expanding existing technologies, or rebranding products to capitalize on major events.
- How to scale online services for millions of users without losing vital data (TechRepublic)
- Google's Olympics 2016 Rio plans: Here's what Search, Maps, YouTube have lined up (ZDNet)
- How Timescope's public VR terminal can show the past or future of a significant site (TechRepublic)
- Telstra allowed to continue Olympic advertisements by court (ZDNet)
- Virtual reality for business: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.