London 2012 could shape how we interact with events

More than perhaps any time before, London 2012 will stand at the confluence of a vast array of media.

More than perhaps any time before, London 2012 will stand at the confluence of a vast array of media - from print to TV to the blog to the mere tweet.

But as old and new media vie for attention, a clash is inevitable, not just between print and TV journalism, but now also between TV networks and the social media powerhouses - and all on a global scale.

Traditionally, TV takes the starring role. During the Beijing Games in 2008, 3.6 billion people (53% of the world's population) watched at least one minute of dedicated coverage. Increasingly, however, as social media becomes the norm, a transmedia experience is developing.

A case in point, during Beijing, was that the Internet outperformed print and radio as the favored medium to follow the Games. This trend emerged even though social media was still in its infancy in 2008, as Facebook had only 100 million users and Twitter could boast just 6 million users at the time.

Today, those connected through social media reach into the billions. Combine the reach and interactive nature of social media with the unprecedented comprehensive viewing experience offered by the networks and you have the makings of the first truly transmedia Games.

Many viewers of this summer's Olympics will be watching the events while simultaneously surfing the Internet for more information about the Games, the athletes, and what's taking place surrounding them.

There is a good chance the audience will no longer just be looking through the focused lens of NBC, but also through a multitude of lenses to find out what is trending on Twitter, what stories their friends are talking about and sharing on Facebook, and what activities other favorite Internet destinations are following.

The Olympics could prove to be the ultimate "social media Petri dish," as we see firsthand where viewers focus their attention.

London 2012, therefore, offers the broadcast networks and other media outlets the opportunity to present - and test - innovative ways to engage with the audience. Looking even further ahead, this trend will redefine how we interact with all live events.

Chris Robichaud is CEO of PMK-BNC.

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