Social, streaming to surge but traditional TV set for Olympics gold | Media Analysis | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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With the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games just under 100 days away, research from GWI has revealed that digital channels will be a central viewing strategy for US and UK consumers with streaming-hungry millennials are most eager to watch and support the games this year.
olympics logo 16 April 2021

According to the study from GWI, with global sporting events now being broadcast on multiple digital channels, from social media to streaming services, consumers across the world have more ways than ever to keep up with events at the Games from afar.

The data from the study noted that millennials appeared to be “all in” when it comes to following the Games. When asked how they plan to follow the Olympics, more than a quarter (27%) of millennials in America said they would follow television network accounts on social media, significantly higher than any other age group in either country. By comparison, just 12% of millennials in the UK said the same.

Millennials in both countries were also more likely than any other generation to turn to digital channels to follow the Olympics: a third (36%) of millennials in the US and a fifth of millennials in the UK said that they planned to stream live events online. 28% of American millennials and 21% of millennials in the UK plan to stream highlights online. In addition, more than a quarter (27%) of millennials in America plan to follow athletes on social media, compared to 12% of UK millennials.

Yet overall TV will likely still be gold medal winner for both countries when it comes to how people will follow the Games. More people in the UK plan to watch Olympic highlights (45%) on TV than in the US (35%), but 45% of adults in both countries are planning to watch the live events on TV. Nearly half (48%) of millennials surveyed in the UK said they will watch live events on TV, the highest category for this age group in the UK; more than half (51%) of millennials in the US will watch live events on TV. Baby boomers were just as interested in watching the Games live on TV: 46% of boomers in the UK and 52% in the US will do so.

“The Olympics represent a really interesting opportunity to see how major sports will evolve as a result of the pandemic. We’ve seen plenty of leagues operate without fans in their stadiums, and to a pretty strong degree of success. But the Olympics are unique in being a global event of massive proportions, with perhaps only the FIFA World Cup being truly comparable,” said GWI vice president, trends and research, US, Virna Sekuj. “As the research suggests, digital channels will be paramount for fan engagement, and how that happens with the Olympics is likely to serve as both a test and inspiration for other sports, as the whole industry grapples with how to adapt to a post-Covid-19 world.”

Assessing the data, Aaron Goldman, CMO of advertising services and software company Mediaocean, noted that as the Tokyo Olympics drew nearer, brands looking to capitalise on the event will need to take different approaches, depending on the audiences and location, as well as develop strategies that are agile.

"Preparing for the unknown is certainly easier said than done, but just as the athletes have developed playbooks to adjust for various conditions, so too must businesses ensure they have the strategies in tools in place to adapt in real-time. This includes an omnichannel advertising platform that can manage media performance, creative, and finances seamlessly, and turn on a dime as the context changes,” he observed.

“There are many lessons to be taken from 2020 football: from capitalising on second screen behaviours to providing virtual crowds, re-creating experiences has proven successful. Partnerships can also be very helpful. UEFA recently partnered with TikTok for the Euros – a great move for a tournament being held across multiple cities for the first time. As travel will be limited for some time, platforms like TikTok can help create virtual momentum and increase fan engagement, driving ROI for brands.”