The 27th (modern) Olympic Games is just days away, and the world is gearing up for the biggest display of sports and athletics in the world. 10,500 athletes from 206 countries are expected to take part in the 17 days of the Games, across 306 events.

We’ve taken a look at key insights and innovations from the world of digital and tech across the Games.

The most digital games yet

The nature of Olympics coverage differs in its nature to that of the recent Euro 2016 tournament, with many different events on at the same time, and no natural linear chronology to when most events are shown. This is clear in a report from RadiumOne, reporting that 58% of 1,000 people questioned stated that they watched Euro 2016 matches at home and the rest went to a pub or bar, whilst 97% of those questioned stated that they would watch Olympics coverage at home.

RadiumOne also reported that almost two thirds of UK viewers will use an internet-connected device at the same time as watching coverage. 31% of this will be for chatting/messaging about the event they are watching, while 30% will use their devices to search for information relating to the event. The upcoming games has been called the ‘most digital yet’ with 70% of millennials questioned by The Rubicon Project stating that they plan to watch on their mobile device.

Google at the Games

Google have announced that users will be able to keep in touch with Olympic results and stream highlight snippets directly through search results. Once the games begin, results, medal counts, athlete info and highlights will be available in more than 60 countries. You can also use virtual reality to visit the Games through Google Maps.

The Google app on Android and iOS will also return Olympic-related searches with an option to receive notifications of updates on top events and medals won.

Visa payment jewellery

Olympic athletes will be able to pay for items at official venues with a Visa payment ring; a secure microchip embedded inside a water-resistant black or white loop. The idea behind it is to bypass the inconvenience of wallets and other wearables for athletes who are in and out of uniform. The ring can be swiftly deactivated from a smartphone if it is lost by the wearer.

NBC and The Olympics

NBC have made several announcements surrounding the use of digital in broadcasting this year’s Games. The first was that they will provide virtual reality coverage of Rio 2016, exclusively to users of Samsung Galaxy smartphones. This will be the first time Olympics programming will be available in VR. The President of NBC Olympics stated that “Olympic fans can be transported to iconic venues, for an unprecedented view...and immersive experience in sport’s ultimate setting.”

The broadcaster has also partnered with Buzzfeed to launch a pop-up Snapchat Discover channel during the Olympics. A team of 12 producers from Buzzfeed will create as much as 20 pieces of content a day during the Games. NBC have defined 12-34 year olds as a priority for the company. The CMO of NBC Olympics went on to explain that “...the best way to reach them is by enlisting the voices that they already listen to on a daily basis.” NBC will also be providing Facebook Live content featuring athletes and commentators, with videos pushed out across Instagram, including a daily slow-motion video around an inspiring moment.

Virtual Reality for Team GB

As part of an ongoing eight-year contract with UK Sport, engineers at BAE systems are working with Team GB Olympic and Paralympic athletes using virtual reality training tech. The technology works to give athletes extra run-throughs of courses and the environments where they will be competing. 3D footage was collected of courses such as sailing, canoe and triathlon and then made available for athletes on headsets or their smartphones, allowing them to feel familiar with the courses when they actually get to Rio.

This kind of technology has been used widely in the US, with football, baseball and basketball teams adopting virtual reality technology in training, analysis and injury prevention.

Other July digisport developments:

  • The US Open

The 116th US Open Championship has embraced video and the use of aerial drone footage this year, as well as multi-camera virtual reality, sponsored by Lexus. The VR live streaming comes via cameras stationed at three holes as well as roving camera coverage. Viewers can navigate each hole, check the leaderboard and switch between cameras. Digital Sport pointed out that VR lends itself especially well to golf, as “the topography, scenery and construction of the [golf] course is often restricted in standard 2D viewing.”

The Open also enjoys a partnership with IBM, Wimbledon’s celebrated tech partner. This year, the Open’s official website includes a full suite of digital products, as well as an iPad app that ‘delivers a data rich experience.’

  • Shaqiri App

The popular Stoke City midfielder has launched a new app to engage with fans, providing news, video and messaging, as well as behind the scenes interviews. The player’s sponsors will also be able to use the app as a marketing channel.

  • Euro 2016 brands

Burst Insights have reviewed every TV & video social advert before, during and after the 12 games broadcast on ITV, concluding that a reactive, match-day approach works best during sporting events.

  • Team USA Basketball social reveal

USA Basketball used Twitter to reveal the 12 NBA players who will represent the US in the Olympics this year.They tweeted an image of the official USA jersey and mentioned the selected player, every two minutes over half an hour.

  • Sky Sports and Facebook Live cup draw

In a first for cup draws, Sky Sports streamed the English Football League’s first round cup draw live on Facebook Live. Fans across the world were able to watch the draw on the Sky Sports website and apps, as well as on the EFL Cup Facebook page.

  • Formula 1

Analytics company SnapRapid has concluded that Formula 1 has been severely undervaluing its sponsorship rights and restricting its social media exposure by focusing its advertising and sponsorship deals on traditional tv broadcasting. They believe that the ‘financially-beleaguered’ Formula 1 could secure themselves a much-needed lifeline by understanding, measuring and utilising social media exposure.

From a different Formula 1 perspective, however, individual drivers are performing just as well on social as they are on the track. Analysis of different drivers’ performance on social has revealed that Brits are leading the way, with Lewis Hamilton holding firm on 3.5 million Twitter followers and Jenson Button on 2.5 million.

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