Summer Olympics Coverage

For the past 2-3 months, this sports fan has been scrambling to find coverage of the many Olympic trials going on throughout the World and North America in particular. The  competition is fierce and dramatic for those Tickets to London as old faces triumph or waver [see Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, Phelps and Lochte, Walsh and May-Trainor for just the starters]. But just finding the right websites and sports channels has been a nightmare as the various Football/Soccer league Finals, French Open, NHL Finals, Grand Prix Races, Euro 2012, NBA Finals, Wimbledon, le Tours de France and the Summer lineup of Sporting events have displaced Olympic tryouts and trials to the specialty channels, off the sports pages and websites with a relentless fury.

So here is the latest report. Most of the major trials around the World concluded in May and  June. A few sports like Rowing, Beach Volleyball, Synchro Swimming, Track and Field are still having contending events which provide  1)insights as to which athletes/teams are peaking at the right time and 2)to determine final seeding for events like Badminton, Tennis, Field Hockey etc. So if you were looking forward to the drama of qualification – most of that is over.

How to Best Follow the Olympics

So this guide is intended to provide you with the insights where to follow the Olympics at the wide range of media that are available – from TV, Websites, Newspapers, and various Media Websites and Apps. First, and formost lets make clear what is happening about live coverage. NBC which owns the rights in the USA made quite a stir when it announced that its website, NBCOlympics.com would provide live feeds for most of the Olympic events. One proviso not mentioned – that  live feed is only available for video viewers in the USA and Territories. Commentary and after event reporting is available to everyone.

YouTube and the IOC will also provide free a nd extensive live coverage to 64 African and Asian countries. But the commentary is in English. If you are in England, then live feeds for 5000 hours  will be available for free on BBC and streaming on the web through such programs as TVcatchup.com and the London Games results App discussed below which runs on  IOS, Blackberry or  Android tablets and phones. After that there is a scramble among the various Sports channels, websites and apps plus magazines and newspaper for a piece of the Olympic Media pie. Here are the best sources to be found so far.

 Olympic Media Sources

NBCOlympics.com

This website is going to be  the place to be to catch  live action in the US. It remains to be seen how good the commentary will be or if it will have a Main Event orientations and miss out on some breathroughs in archery,  canoeing, fencing, and wrestling. Butgive credit where due, NBCOlympics had by far the most coverage of the US Olympic trials. But those tended to be concentrated in the big events like swimming, gymnastics and track+field.

However, the NBC  website has done a great job filing background, medal history plus the latest news  and athlete profiles for  all 32 Olympic event groups. The screenshot above is an example where in Rhythmic Gymnastics [not a US powerhouse event] there is news and stories about the top Russian competitors and some great slideshows. In contrast, here is the content at SI-Sports Illustrated:

In the past Sports Illustrated has been packed with great Olympic writers and coverage. Its pre-Olympic prediction issue has been remarkably savvy and the website  has all 32 event groups and is full of useful schedule information. But it appears SI is short good writers and coverage – the screenshot above is typical of what you will find on the site right now for most event groups. Unless writers and stories start appearing pretty soon, don’t l0ok for much from SI.

Ditto for the NYTimes. After its excellent and innovative coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

I had expected to see a lot more in the London Olympics Blog. Particularly because some of the breakthrough events for US athletes are in areas of interest to NYTimes elite readers like  archery, fencing, mens gymnastics, sailing, etc. And the Times may yet unleash a series of articles as the Games get underway – but right now, despite the Sporting drama, the NYTimes is pulling under weight.

In general, cash strapped magazines and  newspapers are cutting back on the their Olympic coverage and relying on outsourcing to agencies like AP, AFP, and Getty Images. Again, this could be seen in the Bay Area newspapers like the San Jose Mercury and the San Francisco  Chronicle which were packed with coverage of the San Jose  Gymnastics trials but barely followed the track +field or swimming trials except for AP stories. In general, print media are going local to survive even on their online websites.

 An exception appears to be the Washington Post which is teaming up with the SocialCam, an Android and iOS app, to bring readers what it is calling “London Eyes”. This app allows viewers to upload and edit videos of various game events and venues. Unlike other services like viddy.com which restrict users to 15 seconds [but do allow extensive pre-editing including adding sound and filter effects]The Post will have its reporters targeting 60 to 90 second   interviews and commentary taken on iPhone for posting on London Eyes.The Post will also encourage attendees to add their videos to London Eyes. This is the first print cross Web venture encountered. Print will have to do more than the same-old-same-old. to survive.

Same for Yahoo Sports –  their pages on Olympic events are plumped with Lorem Ipsum and schedule filler material


or its equivalent – stories on Pigeon Shooting in the early Olympics. But most alarming was the mixed coverage of events that were in Yahoo’s backyard – San Jose hosted the mens and womens US Gymnastics trials, track+field was just up the road in Oregon, and the swimming trials were in Omaha Nebraska. Yet Yahoo barely dabbled in the very dramatic stories unfolding in all 3 major venues. Look for outsourced story lines and images here for most of the Olympics.

Social Media

Finally the social media can be ranked as follows. Google+ has virtually nothing.

In contrast, Facebook has been smart:

Facebook has gotten about 300 Olympic athletes listed with top athletes in tennis, US gymnastics, and beach volleyball on board but a lot less in swimming, football,  basketball and track+field than one would have expected. The cheekiest and best Facebook pages are by far from the Olympic Sailors and the Dutch athletes. More importantly Facebook has gotten many of the major national teams on their Olympics Start page. This  includes Great Britain, US, Japan, Korea, France, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Australia  among the 57 teams on the page. Notably missing is China. In additions, in a coup, all of the major Olympic Sport Disciplines/Federations are also on the Facebook Olympic page.  So for controversy and firsthand  commentary Facebook has a good start.

 In contrast Twitter has a big spread:

Twitter may have  more potential because  individual athletes are already tweeting about their experiences. For example, teamUSA.org, is crammed with discipline/federation sites that are taking advantage of Twitter [and some Facebook] feeds and group pages. But he who is able to tap into the direct athlete , official and  coach connections, normally TV, will be the big gainer. Obviously Facebook has done well in getting the Official teams and Sports Federations – but the real key is  to get the athletes. Right now it is an open ball game. One suspects that some savvy athletes will see the opportunity to provide live commentary and even production -but to the highest bidder as they become instant  successes and/or are closest to the action – so they may choose to become instant, virtual sports reporters.

Apps for the Games

Smartphones and tablets have literally grown up since the last Olympics in Beijing. So as you can imagine there is more than one App for that. Probably one of  the best is actually 2 free apps provided by the official London  Games organization  itself. The first is Join In:

Join In  is available for free for the iOS, Android, and Blackberry systems. This is really an Olympics Guide to all the London games attendees – where to  go, how to get there,  when to arrive and how the various stadia and venues are laid out. Its a massive, free  handout and guide to the Olympic games.

The London Results App is for the rest of England and the rest of  the World:

This  Results App will be useful to have for attendees as well as the Join In app because it is powered by promised live updates from all 302 events among 32 sports. Users attending the Badminton matches [or working in Perth Australia] can check out whats happening in the Gold Medal Diving competition that same evening, then get the Medals Total updated and check their schedule for events the following day. The Results App will bring live news, photos,plus event  results in detail. t will users to follow events and athletes.  To an extent this is what NBCOlympics has built in its website. But NBC is not taking any chances, and is also delivering two mobile Apps with even more ambitious features.
The NBC Mobile Apps

The NBC Olympic App is very much like the London Results App providing event result,s schedules, metal counts, event and athlete news and images. The NBC Olympics “Live Extra” App enables users qualified in the US to receive the extensive live event broadcasts to do so on their smartphones and tablets. However, users can also use the  web-based NBCOlympics.com site to do so as well. However,  the fact that the NBC Mobile Apps are not ready for delivery yet is not a good sign 18 days before the Olympics.

Beyond these two primary apps their are a raft Olympic games, info, and results apps being offered by many telecom and TV vendors throuhout the World. There is, of course in  England,  many an app for betting on all aspects of the Games.

Summary:The Best Olympics Coverage

As one can see, there is definitely a media scramble  going on for luring Olympic fans to the best  coverage of the Olympics. The emergence of Web, mobile and massive streaming video has changed dramatically from just the past Summer Games in Beijing. The premier position of live TV is being challenged by streaming sources including the  Washington Posts allied with SocialCam.  With posting of images from smartphone and tablets to social media and  gallery sites so easy now, expect  a tsunami  of images, video, plus audio and written commentary to be incoming – but where?  Which media sites will win –  YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter? Will the coverage of the Olympic events become more conversational? What will be interesting to see is which media thrive in this wave of Olympic images and commentary.

The List of Best Olympic Sources.
Best Apps – London Results App except for US viewers which should us the NNBC Mobile Apps or  NBCOlympics.com website
Best Web sites  – this is primarily North America oriented. But the three best websites based on coverage of the trials and build up to the games are:

TeamUSA.org

This website had the best coverage of the various Olympic qualification events and trials over the past half year by far. And why not – it represents and  collects togetherall the USA Summer and Winter Olympic event federations and associations. It acts as a HomePage for the US Olympic movement.Because of its connections to the Olympic federations, it also has access to stories and athletes that other websites miss. TeamUSA obviously has a country bias, lacks a master Olympic events and schedule pages, or a Medal Counts page – but it gets you to the federations and the many coaches, parents and participants and followers in an engaging manner. Most of the sites take advanatge of Twitter and other social media feeds so you get insights not available elsewhere.

ESPN

ESPN has a nifty site loaded with Olympic material  about the games. The screenshot above shows the the rules for Archery. But all the sports are covered in comprehensive  detail – try the dressage event. In addition, There is a History button that provides facts about  the previous Olympic Games back to 1896 in Athens including key facts about the venue, leading performers, official medal count by country, and  other nifty stories. But the big attraction is that ESPN has had a continuing stream of Olympic stories on site from the beginning of the  year and had good coverage of the the key Olympic qualifying trials for gymnastic, track+field and swimming. Finally, unlike many other sites – ESPN maintains active news and stories for all of the 32 Olympic events.

NBCOlympics.com is the goto site if you live in the US.

But as the screenshot above shows, you are out of luck if you don’t live in the US. The video that was not allowed was not of a live event, but rather educational video on what is the basis of a gymnastics vault by two key American gymnasts. Based on this and other forbidden videos, non-US viewers should stay away from this site because video is used extensively on all the pages.  However, NBC did  do an excellent job of covering the trials and the evolution of mny venues in England.

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