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Olympics Web Strategy: How the Internet is trying to tame the Beijing dragon


Photo by Chinaguccio

I’m an Olympics junkie. But, until the olympiad when I can watch the event I want, when I want, wherever I want, my craving will remain unsated.

Athens 2004 gave a glimpse at the potential of the future of Olympics coverage, and as Beijing 2008 approached, it seemed that on-demand, super-immersive web strategy and mobile tactics would be ubiquitous and all-encompassing.

As it turns out, it’s not quite there yet. NBC’s has no regrets however, as their lock down of the coverage has grabbed a 17.6 Nielsen rating and $1 Billion in advertising revenue.

Nevertheless, social media and Web 2.0 has opened new doors for the dissemination and celebration of the games to spread higher, faster and stronger.

Here are some of the strategies and memes that are defining the Olympic Games online and on your mobile device:


Wired’s “How to watch the olympics online”

Wired Olympics WikiIf you’re hunting for the ultimate on-demand and live coverage online, this is a good place to start.

CCTV Olympics Flash interface

Flash designers are boasting about the scope of the content being delivered on a Flash platform implementation. It’s “pretty,” I suppose, but severely limited as far as organization of the content and usability. It’s possible this answers the question whether Flash can support large projects, but that’s secondary to delivering a good user experience… and Flash just isn’t the right fit for this type of content.

NBC using Silverlight

… but at least the CCTV site is Flash and not Silverlight. Users, if they’re so fortunate to own a Windows PC, are forced to download the new Microsoft Silverlight plug-in to view NBC’s online video. After that hurdle is cleared, the experience is good for some, terrible for others.


Google Olympics Web StrategyStartupMeme lists the many Google initiatives for the games, including Gadgets, One-box search, Maps visualizations and the (arguably) revolutionary dedicated YouTube channel.

And here’s Google’s mobile access to stats and updates.


All the major content providers have built desktop widgets.

Lenovo’s TVTonic Super-Widget

Lenovo WidgetLenovo’s has sponsored a skinned TVTonic app that allows you to subscribe to full-length events, viewable on- and off-line.

Interactive Strategies

CBC’s Sport Explainer

CBC AnimationCBC explains events with simple animations. You can learn water polo by clicking on the link at the bottom right here>

BBC Interactive Olympic Map

Interactive MapThe BBC leverages Microsoft Live Search Maps to surface blog and twitter coverage via a geographical visualization.

NYT’s Medal Count Map Visualization

New York Times VisualizationThe New York Times shows us the historical (and current) medal counts for all of the modern games.

BBC’s Olympic Myth: “Monkey”

BBC Monkey Viral VideoThe Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett adapt and animate a classical Chinese novel to promote BBC coverage.


Blackberry Cool’s Olympic Roundup

Blackberr ApplicationsFollow on your Blackberry with these apps.

Softpedia’s Blackberry Beijing Travel App

Travel AppGoing to Beijing? Here’s an interesting targeted Travel App.

Zumobi’s Olympic iPhone App

iPhone Olympics AppZumobi has a simple app – no video, but general coverage, including photos and blogs. If you have an iPhone, let me know what you think of this…

Social Media

Twitter Hashtags: BG08, Beijing, Olympics

The twitterati can’t make up their mind on a tag, so here’s all three as they are rolling out on Twemes.


Olympics on FlickrWow, Flickr had a great opportunity to capitalize on all the great photos from the event… but finding the good photos is tough. Most searches return almost an equal number of protest and political images as mediocre shots of the games.

Facebook Apps

Olympics on FacebookPramati has built an interesting Guess-the-Podium app for Sun. It’s a good idea, but tough to guess many events – that is, I could have an educated guess on a World Cup or March Madness app, but I’m not sure who to pick for 60kg Men’s Freestyle Wrestling. Will it be He Qin, Yandro Quintana or Mavlet Batirov who take the gold?

NBC’s and other also-ran apps are available too.



Bloggers Blog Olympics Blogs and Twitterers

A great list of bloggers and twitterers is collected here.

Athlete Blogs

Athletes' BlogsWith so many to follow, I haven’t had a chance to sift through these massive lists. (If you have any highlights of great athlete bloggers or entries, let me know.)

WordPress Tag: Olympics

Of course, there are lots of other bloggers talking about the olympics. WordPress aggregates the tags from these posts.

Reuters Olympics Podcasts

User-generated content and Memes

We can’t ignore the waves of UGC and the viral contributions of general public.

FriendFeed Spanish Faux-pas

Spanish Basketball TeamThis story exploded across the web, and gains strength still via social networks.

Blue Screen of Death @ Opening Ceremonies

The meme says Windows projected its infamous artwork on during the opening ceremonies. Real or fake? Either way, geeks grabbed on to the story and added another chapter to the Windows Fail mythology.

LOLBush @ Olympics

The Guardian wonders if Bush “can haz” anything else to do, besides watching Misty May dig sand.

Sponsor Strategies

Most of the official international sponsors have weak (if any) strategies – Flash timelines and movies that unapologetically cram the brands down the users’ throats. If your computer doesn’t crash, check out Panasonic’s “World Wide Wave.” Yikes.

On the other side of things

McDonalds’ The Lost Ring Cross-channel Immersive Storyline

Wow. I stumbled on to this only recently, and it looks expansive, and impressive. It also looks like it’s nearly over. I’ll be looking deeper into this multilingual social media play.

Atos Origin’s On-site Infrastructure

Here’s an overview of Beijing 2008’s IT provider’s offerings, including the “Olympic Family Intranet”

Kodak’s Blog?

Kodak's BlogMeh. Kodak’s final olympiad as an Olympic sponsor passes on a weak note online.

… one interesting post however, is the comprehensive gallery of Kodak’s Olympic Pins.

Samsung’s Medal Mania

Medal Mania is a cross-Internet hunt for medals. The clues are kind of lame, but it’s a good attempt at engagement.

Official Web Strategy

Beijing 2008’s official site

Beijing's Official Web StrategyOne wonders at the missed (?) opportunities for the official sites to host and stream on-demand content. And for revenue streams? Sponsorships, subscriptions and fee-driven access. How about a deal with iTunes?

Vancouver 2010

Vancouver's Official Web StrategyFinally, a shameless proud plug for the home team currently building towards the next winter games. Go Canada Go! (See you there.)

This list is a work-in-progress. Send me your links and thoughts on the games…