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  • Virtual Reality To Make a Big Splash in Rio


    (ATR) Athletes at the Rio Games will be able to experience select events through Virtual Reality technology in the Olympic Village.

    IOC's Alex Huot speaks about social media and the Olympics. (ATR)
    International Olympic Committee director of social media Alex Huot delivered the news during his keynote address at the SportAccord Convention’s Digital Summit on Wednesday.

    “It’s early days, but there will be VR stuff in the village,” Huot said. “There will be 360-degree [video]. It’s brilliant and I think as it evolves it’s going to have an impact on society and how we behave.”

    Huot said that the enthralling technology – which has the capacity to virtually place users in seats at live sporting events – was tested by the IOC, with Samsung, at the Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games in February.

    “You’ll get behind the scenes footage and live [video] in Rio,” Huot continued. “Our person tanning on Copacabana is going to go live,” he joked.

    IOC boss Thomas Bach scopes out VR. (ATR)
    “Social media is live and that envelope is going to be pushed further and further,” Huot forecasted.

    Huot’s presentation centered around the growth and impact of social media at the Olympics. Discussing its ever-evolving progress, he displayed the IOC’s first website homepage from 1996.

    “We’ve achieved some big things over the years engaging in social media and we’ve created communities,” Huot said.

    The all-day digital summit was a new addition to the continuing SportAccord Convention in Lausanne. WPP CEO Martin Sorrell delivered the morning keynote address, followed by presentations from OBS, Facebook, Weibo, the IOC’s Huot, Snapchat and Twitter.

    Olympic Channel Moving Forward

    Olympic Channel head Yiannis Exarchos (ATR)
    Olympic Broadcasting Services CEO Yiannis Exarchos was next up at the Digital Summit providing an update on the soon to be launched Olympic Channel and its role in the expanding digital world.

    Exarchos touched upon virtual reality also and how it enables sports fans to feel like they have a presence at a venue – a potential game changer for the future of sport.

    “Virtual reality will become a big component in our coverage of the Olympic Games,” Exarchos said.

    He informed that the Olympic Channel’s goal is to launch around the time of the Rio Games, but a date has not been determined.

    Exarchos noted that 650 pieces of video content are currently being produced by the growing staff at the Olympic Channel. Additionally, 1,700 pieces of video will be generated during the Rio Games, a joint effort in Brazil and at the Olympic Channel headquarters in Madrid, Spain.

    “I believe the international federations now have a good understanding of what we are doing and I think they are embracing it in a warmer way,” Exarchos said.

    During his power point presentation the good-humored OBS boss dealt with a few technical glitches, joking: “I’m not sure what exactly is wrong with the presentation, but I hope the Olympic Channel works better.”

    Facebook and the World of Sports

    Facebook's Global Head of Sports Dan Reed in Lausanne (ATR)
    Led by Facebook’s Global Head of Sports Dan Reed, a four-person team from the northern California-based outfit hosted a best practice workshop at the Digital Summit.

    “The Olympics will be the largest event to happen on Facebook this year,” Reed forecasted.

    Reed, who spent a decade working with the National Basketball Association, informed that of Facebook’s 1.59 billion users, 650 million are connected to sports pages of athletes, teams and leagues.

    “Facebook is the largest group of potential fans in one place that you can find,” Reed said.

    Reed also elaborated on the use of live sports-related video and how it is also the fastest developing trend on Facebook.

    “Most of the content on Facebook and Instagram will be video,” Reed said. “We are making major investments in video.”

    He also noted that one of Facebook’s newest tools -- 360-degree video -- is captivating audiences while rapidly growing in popularity.

    Citing the NFL’s Denver Broncos, NCAA college football power Clemson and soccer club Real Madrid as examples, Reed explained how their savvy use of behind-the-scenes video on team Facebook pages has increased TV audiences.

    “We have a number of partners tell us that we’ve helped improve ratings of their games and broadcast,” Reed said.

    Reed’s extensive fact and figure-driven presentation was streamed live on the SportAccord Convention webpage. Ironically, 15 minutes into his presentation, just 25 total viewers were attracted to the global live stream.

    Twitter Partners with the NFL

    Delegates at the Digital Summit listen to Trickett's presentation. (ATR)
    Wrapping up SportAccord Digital Summit was a presentation by Twitter’s head of sport Alex Trickett. Trickett continued the live video theme, while also discussing the social media’s groundbreaking new partnership with the National Football League.

    Twitter and the NFL recently announced that the social media company will stream ten live Thursday night NFL games globally next season. Trickett said the new venture will be complimentary to the league and not bypass viewers.

    “This is about going to a broadcaster and saying we can we help you reach new audiences,” Trickett said. “It’s just additional eyeballs for them.”

    Trickett noted that 500 million tweets go out everyday and 82% of users now consume video. He informed that video has witnessed a staggering 220 times growth over the past 12 months and 90% takes place on mobile phones.

    “If there is an area that has moved fastest on Twitter, it’s video,” Trickett said. “Don’t think 140 characters on Twitter, think so much more than that.”

    Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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