Posted by Marielena Santana
Now that we’ve watched a puppy befriend a Clydesdale in a Budweiser spot and 80’s icons come together for RadioShack’s ad during the Super Bowl, audiences are engaged with TV’s current big event – the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
The Olympics are a huge investment for both advertisers and its broadcaster NBCUniversal. For the Sochi Games, NBCUniversal shelled out a reported $775 million for U.S. media rights and is spending an estimated $100 million more to produce the event.
In 2010, when the Winter Games were held in Vancouver, news outlets reported that NBCUniversal lost $223 million from the broadcast. Why? Despite a favorable time zone for U.S. viewers, the Vancouver Games took place during a dip in ad spending caused by the recession.
Times have certainly changed in four years. Ad spending is up – NBCUniversal is reported to be making $900 million this time around. Media habits have also changed. Audience levels for live events, including awards shows and sports, have grown exponentially given that viewers experience FOMO – the “fear of missing out” and being left out of the conversation that unfolds on social media.
TV viewing is no longer just about contributing to the next day’s water cooler conversation. Twitter and Facebook trending topics, Buzzfeed memes and blogging serve as real-time barometers of pop culture and current events, encouraging potential viewers to tune in and engage as the action happens.
Social media enables networks to “amplify” sporting events and awards shows into true multiplatform experiences. As such, broadcasters are innovating and implementing social TV initiatives – whether it’s encouraging the use of certain hashtags, showcasing viewers’ tweets on screen or running contests through social media platforms.
The Sochi Games are no different – NBCUniversal is capitalizing on the power of these platforms. The company recently announced partnerships with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ and other such sites, allowing fans to view exclusive video content and engage with Olympics commentators and athletes.
Brands have also been keen to connect with the millions of engaged fans on social media. For the brands not officially sponsoring live sporting events or awards shows, social media offers the opportunity to sneak into the conversation – like JCPenney did tweeting the Super Bowl with its Team USA mittens. It’s too early to tell what brand is winning the social conversation during the Olympics, but the athletes themselves have been doing a great job stirring conversations around #SochiProblems.
There’s no doubt that live events offer broadcasters and brands alike an opportunity to engage with an avid audience. The dual forces of television and social media are pushing us into experiencing live events on second and third screens to redefine “TV.”
Yes, times have certainly changed – we do watch whatever we want, whenever we want. However, when it comes to awards shows and live sporting events like the Olympics – #FOMO is at its most rampant.