The Olympics and its fanfare are now over and brings with it the marketing case study of the month. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) took a rigid stance on how Olympic-related content was shared on social media by both athletes and brands.
While it is understandable that an event of this scale would take steps to protect its intellectual property, these rules show a disappointing disconnect with social media and how content is presently consumed. NBC, who owns exclusive rights to the U.S. Olympics coverage, aggravated this problem by only allowing 30 minutes free streaming on their website. The website content wasn’t available outside that region. The IOC also placed a ban on GIFs, which boggled the minds of sports writers as they lamented the inability to use one of the most versatile and accessible content formats. This was in stark contrast to the 2012 Games, where GIFs were highlighted as a creative form of storytelling.
For me, this article sticks the landing. Millennials are a complex, elusive and picky bunch. Acknowledging the problem that Olympic viewership is skewed to an older demographic and then taking contradictory steps to further alienate Gen Yers solves nothing. Furthermore, it’s not millennials fault that the Olympics saw low ratings; in this age of digital media, dictating how persons watch the games is a recipe for sub par viewership. Perhaps a step in the right direction, the IOC, in collaboration with key sponsors such as Coco-Cola, launched The Olympic Channel in an attempt to engage with the younger demographic. It remains to be seen whether the exciting content being promised is enough to keep audiences interested. We’re four years from Tokyo 2020 and one can hope that during that time, the IOC continues to explore the evolution of social media, technology and how content is disseminated. Who knows, in 2020, we’ll probably be able to experience the Olympics via virtual reality and it would be a shame if something that incredible is bogged down in unnecessary rules.