When the Opening Ceremony officially kicks off the 2016 Summer Olympics today, the world will turn its eyes to Rio de Janeiro. And, to further engage with the event, it is estimated that three billion fans will also turn their eyes to the Internet.
A lot has changed in the digital world since London hosted the Games in 2012. Snapchat had barely been launched and Facebook had just acquired Instagram. There are major updates even when we look back at the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2014 FIFA World Cup. Social live streaming was not a thing and news coverage did not include 360° videos.
With so many new technologies and platforms, here are five ways the Rio 2016 Olympics will shake up the Internet.
The Rio 2016 Olympics Will Be a Social Media Extravaganza
When the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil wrapped up, it was considered the biggest social event in Web history, with the final game generating 280 million interactions by 88 million people just on Facebook. Regardless of the rivalry between Olympic Games and World Cup as the biggest sports event in the world, the digital ecosystem is stronger today than it was two years ago. Also, Rio 2016 is expected to attract more than 3.6 billion global viewers on TV and, according to Global Web Index, 85% of them will likely use second-screen devices throughout the 19 days of competition. Therefore many are dubbing Rio 2016 the most talked-about Games on social media yet and even the largest social media event ever.
Some of the World’s Most Beloved Athletes Are in Rio Now
Some athletes have such a connection with their fans that they are a common choice for brand ambassadors and appear on every list of the most popular social media accounts. No sports event gathers as many athletes as the Summer Olympics, and more than 10,000 of them are in Rio right now. That includes world-renowned names such as Neymar Jr., Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, Novak Djokovic and Michael Phelps. Despite the much discussed “Rule 40” of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which restricts any advertising or individual exploitation of athletes’ images during the competitions, the presence of those idols will generate a real buzz among millions of fans, hungry for medals, for following the best Olympic moments and, of course, for discovering everything about Olympic Village’s backstage.
Digital Media and the New TV
Snapchat scored a deal with NBC, the broadcast rights holder of the Olympics, to set up a dedicated channel and create daily “live stories” using on-the-ground content from NBC, athletes and sports fans. Facebook also developed a partnership with NBC and will gain exclusive content – including interviews, highlights, recaps, and short-form videos to be posted on Facebook and Instagram. In addition, Google tapped into the Olympics conversation by creating its own piece of content, “Beyond the Map.” Launched on July 29, this immersive experience brings Street View and 360° technology to favelas in Rio for the first time and tells the story of some residents. In Brazil, Globo TV in partnership with Japanese NHK will promote an experimental 8K terrestrial broadcasting (with a resolution 16 times higher than the standard known as Full HD), besides broadcasting the games for more than 40 web channels.
True 360 VR Tech Will Be Deployed for the First Time
NBC has announced it will be showing 100 hours of virtual reality and 360° video programming using its new Sports app. Olympic sponsors, such as GE, will explore Games content through 360° videos. And on Rio 2016 official app, viewers can find more 360° content about modalities and backstage. Also, anyone that has a Facebook profile can post 360° pictures!
Brazilians Are Obsessed with Social Media
Brazilians alone can turn a local topic into a global trend. In 2014, “Brazilian Elections” became the third most discussed global topic on Facebook. Last week, when British YouTuber Marina Joyce caused a frenzy among her fans, the hashtag #savemarinajoyce trended globally. But in Brazil, what trended was the misspelled version #savemariajoyce, which reached more than three million people in the country. Brazilians love memes and social trends. They are also one of the most engaged populations regarding brands’ social presence – more than 50 percent recommend brand content in social to friends. They spend on average four hours per day on social channels. And their good sense of humor is contagious: When Brazil’s soccer team lost to Germany (the historic 7×1 match in Brazil’s 2014 World Cup), they moved on via the website brasilalemanhaeterno.com, which shows what the score would be if the two teams were still playing.
So, let the Games begin.
Manuela Nogueira is a knowledge manager in the Digital practice in New York.
Paula Nadal is a senior account manager in the Digital practice in Brazil.