Online video arrives with a five ring circus

In case you’ve been under a rock for a the last week, I’ll let you know that the Olympics are here people! And the best part is, if that’s news to you, you haven’t missed a thing! Let me explain…

Oh Canada!The Olympics create an international buzz that is virtually unmatched. They create heroes that nations will remember for lifetimes. They bring warring nations together. And most importantly, they cause myself and possibly even billions of other people become fascinated with things that they would NEVER even pay the mildest bit of attention to under any other circumstances. I mean, how else would I know what a “coxswain” is?

So with such a large and diverse audience, why wouldn’t the CBC‘s and NBC‘s of the world want to take full advantage of their multi-million dollar broadcast contracts? Mix that in with the fact that the sheer volume of events (read: content) in the Summer Games (300+ events) as compared to the Winter Games (around 80 events), and you have the foundation of a programming smorgasboard!

To put this growth in context let’s flash back four years to the Athens Summer Games and we really started to see the networks begin to use all of their traditional networks (CBC’s now defunct Country Canada, Newsworld and more stepped in to pick up programming while NBC utilized USA Network, Telemundo and even Bravo! to offer up maximum coverage). Mixed in with this we saw a concerted effort to get fans watching a little something called “streaming video”. This experiment was dubbed a huge success and the networks began to see some of those millions come online and take advantage of this new offering. Encouraging signs to say the least.

Bolt - could he have a better name??Now flash forward to present and re-read my opening line – with the evolutions in online video for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, you haven’t missed a thing. I slept through Usain Bolt’s unbelievable 100 metre dash this morning but was immediately able to head to CBC to watch it on demand. Perhaps even more shockingly, the networks are getting this content online even faster than the people of the world can get it on YouTube! But that’s not the most impressive feat. Through four days of the Olympics, according to Cynopsis Digital, NBCOlympics.com’s total video streams were at 11.1 million – FIVE TIMES more than to TOTAL for the Athens Games (2.2 million).

Much in the way that American Idol has been credited with teaching the world how to send a text message, these Olympics may be seen as a tipping point for the general public’s consumption of online video. The elaborate live video channels mixed in with the on demand content found on CBC provides a compelling glimpse into how traditional mainstream media can reinvent itself to present a more modern content mix. These Olympics may indeed be a proving ground for innovations that will affect the way we’re delivered content in the future – and I for one am excited! Further innovations in online video as well as a much more effective transition of this content into the portable and mobile media spaces are just around the corner. If you think that these networks have come a long way in the last four years just imagine where they’ll take content in the next four now that they finally understand that this is what the public wants?!?!
Now if you’ll excuse me, in the present day, I have some Canadian medal performances to watch – on demand of course. Enjoy the rest of the games people, and remember this post when you’re watching the 100 metre final of the 2012 Games on your iPhone 6.0…

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