The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was often called the “most online” Olympics ever, but it looks like 2010’s Vancouver Olympic Games will set the bar even higher.
The CTV Globemedia and Rogers Communications-owned Olympic consortium is planning to deliver on the “like never before” slogan, says Alyson Walker, senior manager of sponsorship and syndication at CTV.ca.
Online content will be a major component of the Winter Games coverage, including live video streaming, live blogs, social media interaction, and live chats.
Canadians are used to watching the Olympics on CBC, but this year CTV and Rogers teamed up to win the rights to broadcast the games. With 80 per cent of the consortium owned by CTV and 20 per cent owned by Rogers, the multi-channel spin helped it become the winning bid.
“We’re surrounding the consumer whether they like it our not,” Walker says. “We’re everywhere.”
11 television stations, 10 radio stations, and social media coverage will all hinge around the Web site, CTVOlympics.ca, as a central hub. There will also be a French-language portal at RDSOlympiques.ca.
An interactive viewer’s guide on the site will break down coverage by the hour, by the event.
It will notify visitors to that they can watch the channel either on TV or streamed on the Web. The schedule will also be accessible on a smart phones on a mobile-friendly Web site and via an iPhone application.
The iPhone app alone has received 45,000 downloads, and the Web site is expected to see 125 million page views for the month of February. Currently, it has become the fifth-most visited site of all CTV Web sites, after traffic magnets such as CTV.ca and TSN.ca.
“We’re very focused on video,” Walker says. “You will be able to consume every moment of Olympic coverage on our Web site.”
Streamed via CTVOlympics.ca using Microsoft’s SmoothHD video player, every second of Olympic event coverage will be available for watching. In 2008, NBC streamed 2,200 hours of Olympics video via the Web, but CTV is poised to top that with a planned 2,350 hours of coverage.
That means you could, in theory, watch Olympic coverage non-stop for 98 days straight.
You can watch “the 75th skier from Ghana, the luger from India,” Walker says. “There are some great stories out there you can’t always see on TV that will be available on the Web site.”
That’s not to mention the behind-the-scenes footage the Web site will also stream to complement its event coverage.
The idea is to capture athletes when they are more relaxed, and aren’t being interviewed formally. To this end, a digital space lounge complete with Xboxes, computers, phones, and comfortable furniture has been built to offer athletes a spot to unwind while waiting for an on-the-air spot.
“It’s a lot different from sitting next to Brian Williams on the set,” Walker says. “We’re hoping it will provide some great behind-the-scenes footage.”
A myriad of other social media features will be used to allow Olympic fans to interact with the site during the Games. Toronto-based Cover It Live software will be used for live blogging and chat. Facebook Connect is integrated into the site, and a Facebook fan page currently has about 3,500 members.
A “you call the play” feature allows Web users to create their own voice-over to an Olympic moment and then share it with friends.
Syndication widgets are being pushed out to other Web sites, and teaser videos will be uploaded to YouTube.
Coverage of the Olympics starts Feb. 12.