Congratulations to London and NBC Sports for a fantastic 2012 Olympic Summer Games.  London was a terrific host city — this was definitely one of the best run and most entertaining games (similar to the successful ’00 Sydney Olympics and ’96 Atlanta Olympics).  We were in London with 20 of Sports Industry Management students from Georgetown.  We toured the Olympic facilities and attended a swimming trials event.  There were a lot of people predicting massive traffic problems and security concerns but those were alleviated and the Games were a smashing success.

I also nothing but superb praise for NBC Sports’ coverage of the Olympics.  During my 14 years at AOL (’95 – ’09), we were constantly in discussions with NBC about a strategic partnership but we could never come to terms.  I was a strong advocate of NBC as well as the IOC doing a better job of embracing the internet.  I knew that we could create a win-win partnership where we could have helped drive our massive audience (in late 90’s thru mid 00’s) to the NBC coverage of the Olympics.

The first time this topic became an important was in ’00 for the Sydney Olympics.  The IOC hastily put together a New Media Summit for the Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland in Dec ’00.  I was on a panel at the summit strongly arguing that the internet can and will improve the coverage of the Olympics, including helping people find the events on TV (including cable networks), watching some of the sports that don’t prime-TV coverage, helping people track the medal standings, etc.

But, back in ’00, the TV broadcasters looked at the internet as  a threat and didn’t want anything to do with it.  They claimed as long as they were paying the massive TV rights fees that they would call the shots.

Well, it’s now 2012 and things have changed dramatically, especially the huge uptick in usage of Social Media and mobile devices.  Twitter and Facebook are obviously game-changers — just look at the increased usage from the ’08 (Beijing Games) to this year.  In addition to those two platforms, YouTube continues to also be a game-changer.  And, NBC did a great job in creating a partnership with Google’s YouTube for their NBCOlympics site.

Social media will continue to increasingly change the viewing habits of sports fans.  With Tweets, FB updates, text messages, etc, it’s no longer easy to try to watch a delayed broadcast of one’s favorite sporting event.  You now literally need to shut off the devices to try to watch your DVR’ed game or event.

I loved how NBC changed its strategy — showing events live on NBCOlympics,com ended up not hurting the TV ratings.  I know some people complained about NBC’s coverage during prime-time but I liked they way the packaged the events.  Also, if you watched it via your DVR, you could easily speed through events that were not of interests.

Although I knew the results, I still watched nearly every night.  And, I shook with excitement or shed a few tears watching so many great athletes perform so well.  My favorite highlights were Gabby and US Women’s team winning the gold, Mo Farah winning the two big running events, the joy of the Missy Franklin and her teammates, the US Women’s basketball and soccer teams winning Gold, Jessica Ennis joyfully winning the heptathlon, Kerry and Misty sweeping their matches, etc.  There’s too many to list. 

This.again reinforces to me the wonderful success of the Olympic Games.  Many Kudos to London and NBC Sports.  I am very much looking forward to the 2016 Olympics in my beloved Rio de Janeiro.  There’s only a 1 hour time difference from US EST so some of the tape-delayed and timing issues won’t be as relevant.  But the inclusion of Social Media will be that much more integrated in the ’16 Games.  What’s interesting is that there will very likely be another major social media platform that launches in for the those ’16 Olympics — it’s hard to say what it’ll be but surely some young and brilliant entrepreneur will develop the next big idea.  Cheers.