MAD Perspectives Blog

 Olympic Inspiration for Innovation

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 03, 2016

Quadrennial sporting events like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup have become benchmarks in how we consume and enjoy live content. The broadcast industry invests in advancing technology and preparation for these events is HUGE. Do other industries have similar events that drive innovation and technological advancement? If we look at other consumer-centric industries like retail or hospitality, we can see industry disruption in the form of e-commerce, online travel sties and e-payments. If we look at financial services, retail banking technology continues to evolve around mobile and online banking. But, there are no significant or recurring events that drive technology innovation.

The Olympics, as an example, drives and inspire technologists and broadcasters to create new ways to engage the viewing audience. Any way to capture a better images, share a more compelling store and encourage incremental viewing is on the table. Broadcasters test technology in advance of these global events. And consumers anticipate how these technologies will enhance their viewing experience.  To be clear, tech advancements around sports are not limited to the broadcast community. Rio was the inspiration for technology such as underwater lap counters, electronic scoring for archery - with accuracy to within .2mm, balloons with high-resolution cameras for security.

However, the technology that enhanced our viewing experience included:

      •      - Drone cameras to provide better view of rowing
  •      - Augmented reality to highlight diving entries into the pool or swimmers setting world record paces
  •      - Virtual reality footage providing Samsung Gear VR users with exclusive immersive experiences
  •      - 4K content provided by NBC to Olympic Broadcast Services partners and NHK in Japan (albeit with a 24 hour delay due to the time it takes to process 4K footage)

In fact, NBC provided more than 6,700 hours of coverage. Yet, only 260 hours were broadcast on linear TV. The rest was streamed at or on the NBC Olympics app. But this discussion is about the technology. What will we see in PyeongChang in 2018? Expect more 4K and even 8K content - particularly as the South Korean and Japanese audiences have been testing distribution throughput.  Expect a strong mobile-centric strategy for sharing content. The U.S east coast is 13 hours behind PyeongChang. There is no hope for live linear TV coverage. Yet, as proven in Rio consumers are more than willing to enjoy content online and on their devices.  I also expect a greater use of IoT technologies and data by and for athletes, judges, broadcasters and consumers.

Are you ready? I can't wait.

What's your perspective?