The Olympics is a spectacle, a very expensive spectacle. NBC holds the exclusive TV rights very, very dearly, spending $963 million just for these Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The media giant already got that back in ad sales, but how’s the audience?
For TV, the viewership numbers might not look so great. If you’re like 20-something millennial in NYC who works an office job and goes out almost nightly (a.k.a. me), there’s a good chance you’re not glued to a TV set during the day or in the evenings for NBC’s coverage.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t watched the Olympics. In fact, I’ve consumed more Olympics-related content than ever before this year. Yeah, I’m constantly on Twitter and try to read as many Mashable articles as I can a day, but my main portal into what’s happening at the 2018 Winter Olympics is Snapchat.
More than ever before, Snapchat has provided an abundance of ways to see straight into the Games. It’s important to note that NBC, while being quite strict with social media platforms sharing Olympics-related content, is financially invested in the future of Snapchat. It poured $500 million into Snap during its initial public offering.
Like Snapchat has done in breaking news events, the app is an incredible place of showcasing raw content from athletes and attendees, quite different from what you’d find on their Twitter feeds or when they’re on television. Take American alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn’s Snapchat Story, for example:
Every day of the Games, Snapchat has been running two Our Stories, where Snapchat’s team of editors and producers curates snaps from important figures and other highlights of the day. The Stories look at moments during the Games and behind-the-scenes at Olympics Village. Monday’s Story showed athletes warming their feet, in their wool socks, by a heater. It later featured snowboarder Jamie Anderson finishing up a run and had figure skater Adam Rippon holding the camera and speaking directly to viewers.
“Hey everybody this is Adam Rippon. I found the good light,” Rippon said in a snap, recorded shortly after he finished his free skate. “Now it’s time to cheer on my teammates. Go Team USA. Woo!”
“Hey everybody this is Adam Rippon. I found the good light,” Rippon said in a snap.
It’s not just watching the athletes and other people involved. NBC and BuzzFeed, in partnership, have been creating a daily edition in Snapchat Discover so that users can simply get lost in pre-game content. Monday’s edition had a story titled, “Why this is the gayest Olympics of all time?” An edition on Sunday asked, “Are you grosser than all these Olympians?” In case you missed them, old editions are available via Search, a recent change made Snapchat as it moves away from ephemerality in parts of the product.
NBC is also producing two mini series exclusively for Snapchat. One titled Pipe Dreams is one three Olympic snowboarders. The other titled Chasing Gold profiles Team USA athletes, including Lindsey Vonn, Chloe Kim, Gus Kenworth, and Nathan Chen.
But the biggest joy for me has been the ability to watch actual live segments of the competition. Last week, Snapchat announced its new live player, where TV networks will be able to stream live broadcasts directly to the app. NBC is the first partner to use the system and plans to show brief moments from the competition. I subscribed to notifications for all Olympics events.
I received my first ping from Snapchat while on the way to the movies Saturday night with my mom. There, in the car, nowhere near a TV set, I was able to watch ice dancing duo Alexa and Maia Shibutani perform.
It was only a few moments of television, but as someone who isn’t glued to watching every Olympics event, it was the perfect way for me to feel like I was a part of the spectacle. For NBC, it’s not a big break away from the television that will jeopardize those precious TV ad dollars — for now. The whole experience made me look forward to my next mobile notification — something I never really thought I’d say before.
I received my second notification last night while chatting with my roommates, and I stopped our conversation to watch.
Now, back at work,
I’ve spent my workday I’ve taken productive work breaks watching athletes before and after their competitions. Thanks to Snapchat’s decision to launch a web player for Official Stories from verified accounts and Our Stories as well as the new Snap Maps website, I’m able to watch a lot this content on my work desktop. Here’s how you can watch it, too:
Now, I’m anxiously awaiting my next ping for a live feed into the real competition. Of course, I could always turn on the TV, but … that’s not really for me.