Earlier this year, the Super Bowl was streamed online for the first time in the event’s history, signaling a new trend in live sports broadcasting. According to NBC Sports, a total of 2.1 million people in the U.S. accessed the stream – a drop in the bucket when you consider that more than 110 million people tuned in on TV, but an achievement all the same for one of the biggest digital experiments to date.
Many have since commented that the Super Bowl was an unfair test of online sports broadcasting, as Super Bowl tradition dictates that people congregate around the TV at parties and gatherings with friends, leaving only those without access to a TV to watch the live stream.
The 2012 summer Olympic Games in London, however, will be the true barometer of online streaming success – and with it, online advertising for content streamed live online. As Rick Cordella, VP-general manager of NBC Sports and Olympics Digital told Advertising Age, “It will be the biggest digital event that this country has ever seen.”
Because NBC Sports will be able to stream all events simultaneously, rather than delay content to prime-time, there is an element of experimentation involved. “We’ll find out by Day 3 what our cruising altitude is going to be,” Mr. Cordella explained. “We’re making a guess at it. We just don’t know.” Advertisers will be playing a similar guessing game but have been happy to invest in the medium with NBC having doubled its digital ad sales compared with the last Beijing Games on 2008.
What we do know is that there will be huge volumes of data generated across the three week period. However it will be interesting to see how this is used. The volumes will provide a massive challenge in terms of trying to collect, understand and make sense of it all, especially across 36 different sports and the differing audiences they will attract, and then throwing in what actual time of day events will be streamed as a result of time zone differences. Good luck to those tasked with trying to work out what all this data means and, most importantly, what to do with it.