Every Olympics has a defining moment. The London Games will have a defining technology. This is the iPad Olympics.
London marks the first Games where consumers have the Apple devices, which promise to facilitate more viewing and a transformative experience in the process.
IPads were first introduced in April 2010, about a month after the last Olympics in Vancouver. Mobile consumption of NBC content was significant during those Games, but iPads promise to play a huge role in blowing that away now.
The Games-changing devices offer a bigger screen than a smartphone, but still a watch-anywhere opportunity. There’s the spectacular picture that can top many high-definition TVs. And, the penetration is growing every day. Who knows? Apple might sell a million of them during the 17 days of the Games.
While the sheer growth in tablets (iPad and Android devices) clearly has been a factor, new data from NPD Group shows video/TV viewing on tablets increased about three-fold in the U.S. over the last year.
Watching the Games on mobile platforms was going to rise exponentially this summer versus Vancouver anyway since NBCUniversal is streaming every competition live online (3,500-plus hours). But, it would be hard to overlook the impact iPads will have in boosting NBCOlympics.com streams.
When HDTVs began to take hold and there was limited content, people were just eager to see the beauty, never mind the programming. Sports was a pacesetter in that experience-trumps-content attraction. So, a meaningless tennis tournament may have gotten higher ratings five years ago than it would now.
IPads offer a similar dynamic now. There's that wow/discovery factor.
That doesn’t necessarily mean iPads will have women gravitating to boxing online or men will become synchronized swimming fans. But, the iPad resolution and intimate experience might mesh well with an archery or taekwando, stopping viewers toggling around.
IPads also look to accelerate use of second-screen opportunities. In Vancouver, NBC found simultaneous consumption of mobile content and TV viewing was pretty high via smartphones and PCs. Count on various iPad apps to give that some zoom.
NBC is offering a “Primetime Companion,” which will synch its evening TV coverage with trivia, videos and athlete bios online. And there will be an ample chance to exchange commentary via Facebook and Twitter.
But it’s not just NBC looking to take advantage of second-screen opportunities, where iPads will be key.
ConnecTV, which is not affiliated with the Olympics, has a “Watercooler” app. That will offer complementary content as a producer monitoring the TV coverage provides all kinds of information. But the focus will be on driving social media conversation via its own set-up, though there will be integration opportunities with Twitter and Facebook.
The company has hired four former Olympians to spur interactivity. The quartet of gold medalists – diver Greg Louganis, swimmers Aaron Peirsol and Amanda Beard and beach volleyballer Eric Fonoimoana – will answer questions and weigh in as events unfold each morning. A representative for ConnecTV used the term “chat-radioish” as a reference to sports talk radio.
Data ConnecTV collects from London could offer a comparison between usage levels via iPads and laptops. The Apple tablets should top the podium.