Sunday, July 20, 2008

Olympics 2008 - the online battle

The Olympics will be with us in just over 2 weeks, and many are thinking that this will be the first Olympics that online perhaps becomes the most important media channel.

Main reason is most events are taking place during work hours (to coincide with US prime time). During these times of the day Internet is the dominant media - and it will provide people with real time updates, images, stories and reports from Beijing.

My feeling is people will be turning to Internet and Radio primarily during the big events, with TV functioning as the catch up mechanism in the evening. Raises the question - what role will Newspapers play given the event times? I'm not quite sure ... but I think free transit papers like MX will be more popular than normal during this time.

It will be an interesting battle online for the Olympic eyeballs. All the major publishers have been out in market this year selling their 'Olympic packages' ... some have been good, others not so much. Yahoo!7 has the "official" rights and is confident they will experience success with these Olympics and the content they have.

My thoughts are that the biggest benefits from the Olympics will go to Google.

Why? Well - Google search is where the majority of people will turn to find out information and results. And YouTube will undeniably be a first stop for people looking for video coverage of events.

Yes, I am aware that YouTube/Google have no streaming rights for Olympics ... but it doesn't matter ... clips will be uploaded to YouTube and will generate millions of views before they are taken down. It is difficult to compete against YouTube users and their ability to share/upload information - effectively they have a million strong editorial team. YouTube will enjoy a strong spike in usage during the Olympic period.

The main publishers could benefit from Google being the first stop for those wanting information - if they buy SEM terms around all key athletes and events. This will result in a strong payday for Google. Imagine the demand for search terms such as Grant Hackett, Eamon Sullivan, Hockeyroos etc as the news outlets frantically try and buy traffic.

The biggest site traffic wise will be This happened with the World Cup and will happen again for Olympics.

I think it will be difficult for Yahoo to generate big traffic from their official presence despite them having the best legal coverage. Their overall sports offering is weak traffic wise, which means they won't have the residual audience of a WWOS or Fairfax's masthead sports offerings. Personally I think it is imperative that 7 really push their online content during the Opening Ceremony ... like REALLY flog it ... because this will rate highly and is their best chance at pushing their TV audience to their web destination. I haven't seen Yahoo!7 nail this with Sports (or anything aside Dancing With The Stars) in their 2+ years of marriage so it will be interesting to see the execution. Remember too, Yahoo!7 had the official socceroos online presence during World Cup 2006 but were beaten by their rivals (the real winner being - which was a Yahoo! global property)

The one to watch will be ninemsn. They have 3 core things on their side. They have a huge sports audience already through WWOS. They have the biggest homepage in the country - hitting 1.4m people every day, and they have the Messenger product and it's MSN Today popup which reaches huge numbers and can drive massive volume to their key properties. Remember too that reaches 1m people per month as well. My bet is that ninemsn's Olympic presence will only trail in terms of usage during Beijing.

FoxSports and Fairfax will enjoy usage increases as well. Fairfax have the massive homepage volumes of The Age and SMH to drive traffic to stories as they happen. I don't feel Bigpond will play much of a role online.

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