Going for Gold: Digital Transformation Is Shaping the Olympic Games

Shifting digital needs have required a new approach by the IOC


The Olympic Games are like no other event on the planet. This August, nearly 4 billion people will tune in to watch the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. In working to develop their integrated digital strategy the IOC was certain to listen to its customer’s desires, focusing on meeting their audience where they are.

Starting with great content is a huge asset for the IOC. The athletes and stories surrounding them have been creating a narrative that consistently draws audiences in with each passing Olympiad. The IOC has been ramping up and rolling out portions of its digital plan since the London Games in 2012.

A crucial step the organization took in its integrated digital strategy came recently by changing their IT infrastructure. Recognizing the growing digital audience, the IOC partnered with Atos, to create a scalable cloud-based service. This move provides the ability to scale and add or release capacity very quickly, ensuring web pages load swiftly and that the operations side of the Games will be able to be run more seamlessly. Atos called this a ‘build once’ delivery model, because the IOC will capitalize on the strategy not just in Rio, but in Pyeong Chang at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and future games.

While it is not news that traditional TV viewing is declining, particularly among millennials, we are in an era of increased content viewership, particularly on multimedia devices. Live programming, especially sports events, continue to receive high ratings. That tells us one thing — TV isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This awareness likely influenced why the IOC is including this platform as part of its multimedia outreach by creating its own Olympic TV channel set to launch ahead of the Rio Summer Games.

The 24-7, year round internet channel will feature a mix of live sports, stories about athletes and volunteers, news and background information, and archival Olympic footage. The global digital platform gives the IOC additional branding opportunities beyond the games, as it provides them with a vehicle to spread Olympic values and highlight the IOC’s many cultural and humanitarian projects. The Olympic TV channel allows the IOC to better connect with the digital age and with young people.

On Feb. 24 the IOC went live with the debut of a revamped and redesigned version of the Olympic Athletes’ Hub. The IOC rolled out the social media portal before the London 2012 Games, with the hope that it would be the digital one-stop site for fans and athletes to connect and interact. The storytelling and getting a glimpse at greatness, what Olympic athletes mean to billions around the globe, is what makes audiences love the games to begin with.

The Olympic Athletes’ Hub was redesigned in a move to strengthen support to athletes as outlined in Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement adopted in December 2014. The enhanced site will allow athletes to connect to a community of past and present Olympians, information on upcoming Games, and other benefits such as post-Games career resources. By aggregating the social media feeds of official athlete Facebook and Twitter accounts, plus a cool gamification element meant to encourage fans to interact, the social media portal will put the athletes within closer reach to fans heading into Rio.

After a year of strategy and discussion, the IOC’s Agenda 2020 helps the organization accomplish its goal of being leaders of change and not just the object of it. As IOC President Thomas Bach stated in the report, 'If we want our values of Olympism — the values of excellence, respect, friendship, dialogue, diversity, non-discrimination, tolerance, fair play, solidarity, development, and peace — if we want these values to remain relevant in society, the time for change is now.”

Innovative changes to its digital strategy will help the Olympic Games be relevant not just now, but well into the future.


Bio Tracey Savell Reavis

Tracey is the Director of Communications of the West Hollywood Sports Festival. In this role she is responsible for creating the content strategy, communicating the vision of the brand and developing the digital initiatives of the award-winning event. Prior to this Tracey worked more than 10 years as a sportswriter covering several sports including the NBA, PGA and NFL Europe, as well as a writing consultant for education nonprofits. She has a Masters in Sports Industry Management from the Johan Cruyff Institute in Barcelona, Spain. Read her journal of creating the sports festival’s digital content strategy on LinkedIn and connect @tsavellreavis

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