With a skydiving queen, a keyboarding Bean and a 100-foot-tall Voldemort, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games have begun. And if you’d like to watch the events, you can tune in to NBC, watch it streaming live on nbc.com or on the Olympics iPad app.
However, if you want to know how the Olympics are going, you might just want to head to Twitter.
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games promised to be the most digitally connected ones in history. Not a tough thing to accomplish, really. Social media adoption has been steadily rising throughout the world every year. I could just as easily promise that next Tuesday would be the most digitally connected Tuesday ever.
But when NBC and the IOC made such a promise, I don’t think they knew all that it would entail. Since the games began, there has been a continual stream of social reactions — some good and some not so good.
On the plus side, the opening ceremony was very well received and tweeted about. In fact, it garnered five times as many mentions of the word “proud” as it did the word “bored,” as reported by Adweek.
On the negative side, NBC has seen heavy criticism for not broadcasting the opening ceremony live to the United States, opting to hide the coverage and pull down user-posted videos to make the primetime rebroadcast the only game in town. Let’s make a point to mention the puzzling decision to cut to an interview of swimmer Michael Phelps while the ceremony paid respect to the victims of the 40th anniversary of the Munich games bombing.
NBC’s delayed coverage has continued, spawning a backlash on Twitter over spoilers, giving away the results of events not yet been televised. #NBCFail trended after the result of the Phelps/Ryan Lochte races was announced ahead of its televised appearance. The phenomenon has also given rise to a spoof account, @NBCDelayed, providing its 27,000 followers up-to-the-minute coverage of events that happened years prior.
Twitter has also become a sounding board for Olympians protesting the ban on athletes promoting non-IOC-approved sponsors.
Twitter itself hasn’t been spared criticism for Olympic-level blunders. After banning British journalist Guy Adams for posting the corporate email address of an NBC executive, Twitter has backpedaled, reinstating the journalist’s handle and apologizing.
And what has all this tweeting meant for NBC and the Olympics? Well, if ratings are any indication, they’re winning. The London Olympics are outperforming the 2008 Beijing Olympics by around 5 percent.
Although NBC has stumbled in its pledge to make this Olympics socially sharable, it has done well at responding to and embracing the feedback it knew would come via social media.
All that being said, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that NBC and the IOC will take what they learn in London to make the Winter Olympics in 2014 the most digitally connected games … ever!
Barrett Condy is a senior copywriter at gyro
Follow him @barrettcondy