ADOTAS — I’m a huge fan of live sports in general, but the drama and excitement of the Olympics takes it to another level altogether. Every two years I’m delighted by the privilege to spend two weeks watching the best athletes on Earth competing against each other in sports I will never experience myself (Skeleton – really?). Yet with limited hours in the day and only basic cable to quench my thirst for Olympic drama, I turned to the Internet to fulfill my wishes.
I have to hand it to NBC for building such an immersive site, and I love that the first button I saw on the page was Play, but navigating the content unfortunately left something to be desired. The amount of premium, jaw-dropping video clips available was enough to make any sports junkie drool, and yet the experience of finding and navigating between those clips nowhere near matches the grace and dynamism of the content itself. I wasn’t able to click on some of the previously aired events, clicking on the sidebar of past dates only worked intermittently, and the cycle of redundant commercials every few minutes made it almost torturous to watch.
This got me wondering about what my online experience would be like while watching the Brazil Summer Olympics in 2016, or what it’d be like watching the next Winter Olympics online four years from now.
With technologies like eye-tracking, gesture control, and voice control becoming more fine-tuned and mind-blowingly impressive, there’s no doubt that the way we consume online content will be very different in the near future.
Imagine being able to control your viewing angles while you’re watching the ski jumping event simply by pressing a button on your smartphone, or swiping on your tablet to call up an aerial shot of the bobsledding races. Picture being able to select events before they even air, having them go to a personal NBC Olympics site that you have your own login for so that the events are ready and waiting for you during and after they air on a personal “channel” that you can then share with friends and social networks.
Current trends are headed in that direction. More people are cutting cable, going with streaming devices like Roku, Chromecast or Apple TV, and taking the power of curated content into their own hands. As cord cutting continues more people will rely not only on online content and apps to watch televised content, but good, engaging, and interactive online content and apps to take the place of what they’d normally see on TV.
Mobile engagement has also changed. According to SOASTA, the leaders in cloud testing and user experience for web and mobile, 34 percent of smartphone and tablet owners planned to use apps while watching the Olympics. While only 13 percent of that group planned to stream coverage of the games on mobile, the rest planned to check event results (32 percent), watch highlights (22 percent), and get scores and results through social media (22 percent).
The number of people using a mobile device to stream coverage of the games will grow exponentially with each Olympic Games, and the mobile experience will continue to get better.
Gone are the days when people just sat in front of the TV and watched the Olympics – commercials and all – without picking up a smartphone or tablet to integrate a second-screen experience. The Olympics are an especially great example of how agencies and marketers need to start thinking differently about online video as a medium and how they can leverage the power of mobile to create a content experience that matches the power of the device.
For the next Olympic Games, viewers should be able to watch what they want, when they want it, and in a way that elegantly engages them in the drama of the games. I can’t wait until my sports-event surfing experience is as fluid, graceful, and exciting as the content itself.