Now that the Olympics are underway one can't help but see the way the games have evolved so dramatically in the age of social media and yet still have a long way to go. In the past people tuned into big broadcasters like the BBC, ITV or NBC for sports coverage, whereas now we're gradually seeing this exclusivity diminish because more and more people are viewing sports on their phones. This is an unstoppable trend especially shown by the most recent announcement that Twitter will be broadcasting Premier League highlights.
We've already seen how some broadcasters are looking to tap into the demand for Olympics coverage on social media - the BBC is linking highlights through their Twitter feed and CNN are issuing gifs to showcase specific athletes. Meanwhile, Snapchat is also in on the act, with a dedicated live feed from Rio where users can post their first-hand experiences - which has even been backed by seven official brand partners who will run ads between clips of the games. Additionally, the official broadcast partners of the Olympics, NBC, are using Buzzfeed to curate short clips and behind-the-scenes content in a channel available on the app for two weeks.
It's also evident that there has been a profound shift in viewer consumption, from long to short form video online. At the end of 2015 46% of all video plays were on mobile devices - and from this 69% of all videos watched on smartphones were under 10 minutes long. While some consumers still relish live-streamed sports on their devices, shorter form videos will certain seem to engage with much larger audiences.
Highlights packages throughout the games have specifically focused on this short form approach with Twitter being the most natural fit. This is because 50% of all the platform's TV conversations are focused on sports, meaning there's already a captive audience and live broadcasts will only add to a deeper involvement for sports fans. Twitter has already become a natural extension of the sports experience for fans as they can vent their displeasure or joy through the platform.
While social media has very ably showcased the highlights of this Olympics already, the next step will be to stream the future games. Amongst the other examples of sports broadcast moving to an online home, Disney has recently made an investment sports streaming when they acquired a stake in BAMTech. Not only is this where the money lies (Disney's $1billion for their minority stake in the company) it is also where viewers and fans reside - as consumers almost exclusively watch sports live: 95% of total sports programme viewing is watched this way, to be exact.
Seeing as the next Olympics won't be for another two years it's no stretch to imagine how the games will be watched in 2018 - the most likely bet being where consumers want it, not just on TV.
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