Before the internet, families crowded around their TVs to watch The Olympics—glued to tear jerking behind-the-scenes stories and record-breaking events. It was a shared experience and it still is—but now it’s unfolding 24/7, on a global scale, in the palm of our hands. We have unprecedented access to information, the athletes themselves, and more content than we could ever possibly consume. And it’s on our own terms (not just when the event takes place).
While social media coverage isn’t new to The Games, it’s role continues to grow and evolve. Here’s what to know as #Rio2016 get underway.
1. There’s a lot to watch: NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app will live-stream 4,500 total hours.
2. Keep your smartphone charged, because you’ll need it: A Facebook-commissioned survey by GfK shows that 64% of people plan to use a mobile device to seek news about The Games and 51% will watch replays on mobile.
3. Brands continue to tap into emotions by creating videos about athletes that will make you cry: P&G’s “Thank You, Mom” campaign is back for another round (sniff, sniff), Gatorade’s “Never Lose the Love” spot portrays Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, Paul George, and April Ross being visited by their younger selves. Samsung’s “The Chant” tugs at the heartstrings as it brings to life the inspiring story of 19-year-old Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan, a runner from South Sudan.
4. There will (hopefully) be less Twitter spoilers: Rio’s time zone is only one hour ahead of the East Coast, which means that most prime-time coverage will be live compared to when London was six hours ahead of us.
5, At the end of March, NBC said they’d already surpassed $1 billion in national ad sales for Rio, which includes national broadcast, cable and digital sales. (For perspective, that same number was reached two days before the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.)
6. Rio is the first virtual reality Olympics: Samsung partnered with NBC to offer exclusive content on Samsung Galaxy smartphones compatible with Gear VR, broadcasting a full 360 degree view of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, men’s basketball, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing and fencing, and other highlight packages.
7. 85% of viewers are likely to use second-screen devices during the Olympics
according to Global Web Index.
8. When done right, social media helps athletes connect with their fans in more personal ways (and bring value to their sponsors). When done wrong, athletes can get kicked out of The Games. Brands need to work hand in hand with their sponsored athletes to ensure they’re staying on message, while being authentic to who they are. Here are five athletes to follow.
9. The Olympics are coming to Snapchat. There will be a dedicated channel on the app featuring behind-the-scenes content curated by BuzzFeed, while Snapchat creates daily “live stories” using content from NBC, athletes and fans on-site.