Olympic broadcasters going for digital gold

The Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium launches two websites as part of ambitious online coverage for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.

Digital coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics is already underway, as Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium yesterday launched two websites, CTVOlympics.ca and RDSOlympiques.ca.

With exclusive content, participatory games, up-to-the-minute photo coverage and interactive guides, 2010 will be the first digital Olympics – but with a multi-platform sell, says Alon Marcovici, VP, digital media and research, Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium. The consortium, a partnership between CTV and Rogers Media Inc., holds first broadcasting rights for the Games.

‘Effectively everything is for sale, as long as we meet our [International Olympic Committee] obligations with our sponsors, and as long as we continue our focus on a multi-platform sell,’ Marcovici tells MiC. ‘Each Olympic sponsor has its own contractual expectation for us. When we get past those restrictions, there will definitely be opportunities for non-Olympic sponsors where categories are free or have been released,’ he explains.

The online coverage will be rolled out in five phases over the next year, and is set to provide a record number of 2,400 hours of live Olympic hours. There will be up to 14 concurrent, enhanced definition live streams with options for replays, highlights and interviews. Plus live feeds will air on five networks (CTV, TQS, Rogers Sportsnet, TSN and RDS). The majority of the print content on the web is provided by The Globe and Mail staff.

Online sponsorships could include both traditional web sell and contextual sell. For instance, a factoid section on the site titled ‘By the numbers’ could one day give visitors the Canada medal count since 1980, and on another day how many brand-name burgers are served at the Olympics every day.

‘A lot of sponsors have great stories to tell about the games and how they contribute to the games. We have many ways that we can integrate their stories,’ says Marcovici.

Aiming to reach younger true fans and casual observers, other user-generated content includes allowing visitors to edit their own highlight packs, rate or judge team performances, submit questions and, in a section titled Citizen Journalists, provide their own coverage.