Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Countdown to Beijing – Live and on the Internet, encompassing the Globe (Part II)

“If you can’t beat them – you might as well join them” seems to be a mantra the International Olympic Committee appears to be holding onto when it comes to the IOC’s philosophy when it comes to the IOC, new media (the Internet) and mobile rights. Six short years ago the IOC accredited five web based journalists, and all but forbid any live video streaming from the 2002 Salt Lake Games. NBC will stream more than 2,200 hours online and that’s merely the tip of the 2008 IOC internet video streaming. After religiously protecting the Olympics from the Internet, it would appear the IOC now sees the Internet as the eventual savior for the Olympic movement.

"It (digital media) will have a transforming impact on the Olympics at multiple levels," said Shoba Purushothaman, CEO of Web-based video marketing platform The NewsMarket in a Reuters report

"It will change story-telling for the Games by making it more human and personal."

Everything and anything relating to the Beijing Games will be sliced, diced and dissected through the Internet, but the crown jewel, the Games real future will be in delivering the Internet to an audience the Olympic movement desperately seeks – ‘younger demographic groups’ who spend countless hours on the Internet.

"The Olympic Games are not that credible or relevant to most young people in the developed or developing world," Alex Balfour, the head of new media at the London 2012 organizing committee told Reuters.

The average age of viewers for the 2004 Games in Athens was over 40 and shows no signs of falling.

"I will maybe watch highlight shows on TV later in the evening but I can never see myself watching it live," said Richard Cousins, a 19-year-old British student.

Jon Tibbs, whose public relations company has several Olympic clients, said in a Reuters report the "digital marketplace has the potential to re-engage hundreds of millions of people with sport" and, as an added benefit to the Olympic movement, re-energize the interest of consumer companies in sponsoring the Games.

The IOC awarded Chinese online rights to on December 18, 2007. Less than a year before next Friday’s Beijing Olympic ceremonies – the IOC made it clear they believed CCTV could deliver Olympic content to what the biggest market to ever host an Olympic Games.

The IOC selected on its capacity to guarantee full exploitation of the digital broadcast rights over a variety of platforms, by working in close cooperation with its television broadcast team. The IOC was also impressed by’s commitment to promoting the Olympic Games and the values of the Olympic Movement in China.

Over-the-air TV rights for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 were acquired by CCTV, as a member of the Asian Broadcasting Union in 1998. The IOC considered interest from several companies for the internet and mobile platform broadcast rights in the Chinese mainland, having launched a tender in March 2007.

Jacques Rogge, IOC President, said: “The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will be a landmark moment in Olympic history, and is obviously an event of huge national interest in China. When this is coupled with China's digital media potential, it means our agreement with represents a very exciting partnership for the Olympic Movement. We look forward to working with our broadcast partner CCTV and its digital arm,, to bring the excitement of the Olympic Games to a new generation of fans in China.”

IOC Executive Board member and member of the IOC’s TV Rights and New Media Commission Richard Carrión said: “The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will break new boundaries in terms of digital Olympic broadcast. It was important for the IOC to make sure that all potential partners understood the value of the rights and demonstrated that they would fully exploit these rights in mainland China, whilst also providing satisfactory guarantees of anti-piracy and security measures. By granting digital rights to, the IOC believes’s digital team will work closely with the broadcast team at CCTV to develop joint executions across media platforms. This will ensure Chinese Olympic fans have access to the best possible Olympic coverage in 2008.”’s General Manager, Mr. Wang Wenbin, said: “The 2008 Olympic Games is both a milestone for new media broadcast in China, and also a milestone for the new media broadcast of the Olympic Games.”

According to More than 75% of China's Internet users get their video entertainment, watching TV and movies on the Internet. According to China Internet Network Information Center, the administrative agency responsible for Internet affairs under the Ministry of Information Industry of the People's Republic of China, there are more than 200 million Internet users and more than 500 million mobile users in China. This represents the largest online and mobile population in the world. And CCTV has what the IOC wanted when they awarded the Chinese broadcaster over-the-air, new media and mobile rights – the audience.

CCTV is China's only main national television broadcast network with over 500 million viewers on their traditional broadcast channels. Over Internet and mobile phone platforms,'s live streaming of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Mainland China and Macao SAR, will represent a milestone in the history of the Olympic Games broadcast in the new digital media age.

CCTV will partner with UUSee UUSee will broadcast live the opening ceremony, closing ceremony and all the important sporting action of the 2008 Olympic Games via the Internet in China.
The IOC’s new media and mobile plans for Beijing Games follow the philosophy set with NBC in the United States and CCTV in China. Over-the-air broadcast rights holders where awarded the right to stream live (and taped) events on the Internet.

In Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will offer more than 1,500 hours of video content on the CBC’s website.

As has been the case since the 1960 Rome Games, the European Broadcasting Union (a conglomerate of more than 50 national broadcasters) holds the European over-the-air, online and mobile rights. The EBU will contribute $443 million to the Beijing Games. Like NBC and Canada’s CBC, the EBU are longtime IOC broadcast partners, fulfilling the IOC’s belief that ‘those who they brought to the dance’ will enjoy new media and mobile rights in Beijing.

In November the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced an agreement with Television New Zealand (TVNZ) for the internet and mobile platform exhibition rights within New Zealand for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The IOC’s over-the-air broadcast partner through to Beijing 2008 is also TVNZ.

Commenting on the agreement, Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said: “Digital media represents an increasingly important means for communicating the Olympic Games and the Olympic values to the broadest possible audience and we look forward to working with TVNZ to make the Beijing 2008 footage available over the internet and mobile phones in New Zealand.”

TVNZ’s Chief Executive, Rick Ellis, said: “TVNZ’s successful bid for internet and mobile rights will open up a whole new world for New Zealand viewers, allowing them to follow the Beijing Olympics more closely and in more depth than ever before.”

On July 3 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced an agreement with Terra for the internet and mobile platform exhibition rights within Latin America for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Commenting on the agreement, IOC Executive Board member Richard Carrión said: “Terra are a leader in their market, and we look forward to working with them to provide sports fans with unprecedented access to Olympic Games coverage over the internet and mobile phones in Latin America. Digital media coverage of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games around the world is set to eclipse all previous editions of the Games, and these platforms represent an increasingly important means for communicating the Olympic Games and the Olympic values to the broadest possible audience, including to younger generations of Olympic fans.”

The CEO of Terra Latin America, Fernando Madeira, said: “Terra’s internet platform is able to deliver full Olympic Games content via different channels at the same time, live and on demand. The agreement with the International Olympic Committee represents a great opportunity to enhance the content for Terra TV and mobile, as well as showing our innovative capabilities in offering exclusive premium content to Terra’s users”.

A few days after the IOC awarded the new media and mobile rights for the 2008 Beijing Games, the IOC reached an agreement with the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) and the South African Broadcasting Corporation Limited (SABC) for the acquisition of the broadcast rights within 37 territories in sub- Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

The agreement includes exclusive over-the-air television and radio broadcast rights and non-exclusive satellite, mobile and internet rights. It covers English, French and Portuguese languages, with a minimum commitment of six hours per day on over-the-air television, with two highlights packages per day, and four hours per day on radio.

The IOC selected the AUB / SABC partnership on its capacity to reach the largest possible audience, as well as its commitment to broadcasting tailored programming of the Olympic Games in sub-Saharan Africa and promoting the values of the Olympic Movement in the region.

Commenting on the agreement, IOC Executive Board member Richard Carrión said: “We are delighted to have reached this agreement as it is extremely important that Olympic fans across sub-Saharan Africa have the opportunity to watch the Olympic Games via the best possible broadcast coverage. The members of the AUB are well placed to provide a first-class service.”

Mr Mvuzo Mbebe, Group Executive, SABC Content Enterprises, commented: "SABC has assisted both financially in the acquisition of the rights and in leveraging its particular expertise in the technical aspects of production, whereas the AUB brings to the fore its considerable strengths in uniting the majority of broadcasters representing 37 territories within Africa under one cohesive umbrella body."

Speaking about the agreement, Larry Atiase, CEO of the AUB said: “Our feed will reach an estimated audience of 129 million people and we will broadcast 126 hours over the course of the Olympic Games.”

Broadcasting revenues (remember new media and mobile rights are melded together with the rights fees paid by over-the-air broadcasters) are staggering:

Olympic Games Broadcast Revenue
1960 Rome US$1.2 million
1964 Tokyo US$1.6 million
1968 Mexico City US$9.8 million
1972 Munich US$17.8 million
1976 Montreal US$34.9 million
1980 Moscow US$88 million
1984 Los Angeles US$286.9 million
1988 Seoul US$402.6 million
1992 Barcelona US$636.1 million
1996 Atlanta US$898.3 million
2000 Sydney US$1,331.6 million
2004 Athens US$1,494 million
2008 Beijing US$1,737 million (estimate to date)

The IOC has awarded (sold) broadcast rights through the 2012 London Games. Expect the Internet to play a key role in how the IOC delivers both the 2010 Vancouver Games and the next summer Games in London. But with hundreds of millions of dollars already committed to delivering the Games, the IOC hasn’t attempted to generate significant revenues from new media and mobile rights. When the IOC sits down with their broadcast partners to sell the 2014 Winter Games in Sofia, Russia and the yet to be awarded 2016 Summer Games expect digital rights to play a key role in the dollars the IOC will generate with the foundation that will be established when the Beijing Games begin in eight days.

"People taking photos and video with their cell phones will change the way we watch the Games," says The NewsMarket's Purushothaman.

"For the first time, digital technology will liberate how we all, sitting outside, see the Games." But the IOC will not allow spectators to publish on the internet photos and video taken inside Olympic venues.

"As the iPhone capabilities are growing by the day I can probably see myself using my iPhone to view Olympic clips on the go, maybe on my way to work or when out with my friends," said Richard Woods, 20, a public relations executive.

"Technology is the key enabler for the Olympic Games," said Alexander Vronski, technology vice president for the Sochi Winter Games of 2014. "New media can engage nations."

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited and used in this Insider Report: Reuters and the International Olympic Committee

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