Before anyone imagines that I made it out to China, sadly that was not the case but it was still a quite excellent experience and worthy of some comment.
As we all know NBC paid a massive amount of money for the event and they sure did well out of it. However I feel we must recognize they also did a very good job. This was probably the first major sporting event where having HD really paid off big time. Every sport just looked better and was more compelling in HD. The swimming especially stood out for me although the real gain was the ability to see the fine details in terms of the athletic effort exerted by so many of the competitors. These details have been lacking in TV coverage to date. HD makes that possible and is so much more compelling when it’s sport after sport after sport (rather than a single ball game or Superbowl).
Tivo (or DVR) service was of course a must to watch the coverage properly. NBC had to make back the dollars and advertising breaks plagued the content and disrupted the flow. Having said that I must applaud the advertisers and agencies who generally did a good job of making ads that fitted in well and were generally of superior quality. Visa particularly did a nice job with the “Phelps” ads – contextually working with their sponsorship of the event.
As regards advertising at the actual event…it really passed me by which either means it was very subtle, or I suspect, somewhat limited visually at the events. Again that’s good. The Olympics only come around every four years and it should rightly be about the athletes who put such huge efforts in and not the advertisers.
Being a British, I missed many of the GB medals as obviously the coverage here in the US was skewed but such was the thrilling nature of many of the US efforts that it really did not matter. Human endeavour is what the real Olympic spirit is an as usual there was plenty of that no matter what colour jersey was being worn.
And congratulations to China. No doubting they managed to make the event feel enormous with the scale of both venues and extravaganzas matching the exploits of the sportsmen and women. I don’t know what it was like there but they appeared to really deliver on the primary objective required which is to enable everyone to enjoy the experience whether there in person or not.
So next to London. It will be very tough for the UK to match these organizational exploits and given our history of incompetence with major public endeavours (wobbly millennium bridge, London Eye that opened late, Wembley Stadium debacle being just some examples) it’s a worry that we will be ready in time. However I expect the Brits to out do the Chinese in one area – that is consistently fill the stadium. Too often the efforts on the ground were not matched by the attendance in the venue. Here’s where the real efforts should be made if London is really to respond to the high level set here.
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