Major events can be found in the provision of international prestige and recognition of a country, and the promotion of values. The mass media, especially television and social media play an important role in influencing reality and creating a link between the event and audiences. (Šiljak, Perović and Parčina, 2014). The Olympics are the world's largest media event and believes their broadcasting contributes to the global development of the Olympic Movement. They have set goals and objectives and work with the media to achieve them. Although the media is a partner, they have requirements to follow in order to deliver the right message to the audiences. In terms of the Olympic Games, the media impact is its ability to achieve the International Olympic Committee's goals.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a privately funded organisation that organises the Olympic Games. It relies on contributions from commercial partners to stage the Games and support the Olympic Movement. The success of the IOC is largely related to its marketing program; which includes global media and sponsorships. It ensures the financial security of the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games. (International Olympic Committee, 2016).
The Olympic Games started in 1896. It is based on shared values and rituals that have been repeated at all the Games. The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practices without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. (International Olympic Committee, 2018).
The Rio 2016 Olympics was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event was held from the 5th to the 21st August 2016. In order to ensure high broadcasting standards, the IOC established the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) in 2001. By doing so, they are able to consistently maintain broadcasting quality of every Games. The OBS are responsible for providing international television and radio signals from the Games to all Rights Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) all over the world. RHBs over the world need to acquire exclusive rights to broadcast the Games in their respective countries; which is done by bidding.
With regards to broadcasting rights in Brazil, the IOC awarded Globo Comunicação e Participações S.A. (TV Globo) as the official broadcasting agency after it won the bid to be the broadest set of media right offered for the Brazilian market. It obtained all broadcast platforms; which included free-to-air television, subscription television, internet, and mobile phones. (International Olympic Committee, 2018).
The primary broadcasting objectives were to ensure as many viewers as possible are able to experience the Games, promote the ideas and values of Olympism, and raise awareness of the work of the Olympic Movement throughout the world. They achieved this by partnering with the world's leading broadcasting organisations and with the use of new technology and media platforms. The objective of the media is to reach as many people as possible and obtain as many views as possible.
Research by the IOC shows, during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, OBS used more than 1,000 cameras to produce over 7,000 hours of High Definition coverage. This included live sports, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Olympic News Channel, and other additional production material. (International Olympic Committee, 2016). Besides Television broadcasting, the OBS also incorporated the use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Olympic Video Player as forms of broadcasting.
The press releases for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were done through their official website (https://www.olympic.org/news/press-releases). All press releases are done by the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (OCOG). In addition to that, only people accredited as media may act as journalists, nobody else is to act as a journalist or reporter; this includes the coaches and athletes. (Olympic Charter, 2017). This is to prevent pitfalls such as leaks and bad press; directly or indirectly affecting the event. For example, when there is a scandal or controversy (performance enhancing drugs, corruption, etc.), the IOC will deal with the crisis by appointing a spokesperson to address the issue. The spokesperson will acknowledge the crisis and address the audiences by working with their media partners.
The Olympic sponsors play a crucial role in the staging of the Games. Besides providing financial support, they play a significant role before and during the event in delivering assistance to organisers through products, services, technology, and staff. Through the sponsors' marketing campaigns, they help promote the Games and the Olympic values, and increase support for the athletes involved. In return for their support, the sponsors gain exposure through the association with then Olympic Games, which is an international marketing platform. Besides that, they also the Olympic games also offer their partners opportunity to develop innovative ways to build their brand, increase sales, brand awareness, boost corporate reputation, and leave a lasting company legacy in the local communities. (International Olympic Committee, 2016).
IOC's strategic communication plan was to give the general public storytelling power. According to them, “citizens who publish content on the web are the ones who will ultimately define the success of the Games”. (Time, 2018). IOC's measure of media success if audience engagement. During the Rio 2016 Olympics, there were over 187 million tweets about the Games, which is an increase compared to 150 million tweets during the 2012 London Games. (Hutchinson and Hutchinson, 2018)
Social media and the media play a pivotal role in how sponsors carry out their obligations. For example, the Coca-Cola website showed videos of athletes discussing their ‘gold' moments, followed by the hashtag #Thatsgold. This encouraged fans to engage on different social media platforms by asking them to post their own gold moments. (Rivers, 2018).
The media also plays a role in event tourism and is able to change the perception of a country or event. During the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, there were many issues that Brazil was facing; Zika virus, unstable political environment and recession. Due to the media's focus on these issues, it affected people's perception of Brazil. This affected ticket sales and put off interests for international travellers. However, the Brazilian government implemented strategies that addressed these issues. (Skift, 2018).
In conclusion, major events use mass media as a tool to create a link between the event and its audiences. The Olympic Games is the world's largest media event that partners with the media to achieve their goals and objectives as an organisation. Since it is a private funded organisation its success relies on the contributions from its commercial partners; to stage the Games and support the Olympic Movement. The IOC established the OBS in order to maintain and control the broadcasting quality of the Games around the world and provides broadcasting rights to RHBs around the world. The IOC also manages the press releases regarding the Games and have strict rules around media coverage. Besides that, the Olympics sponsors also benefit from the impact of the media coverage. The strategic communication plan of the IOC with regards to social media platforms was left to the public's storytelling. This is due to the manner in which they measure success; which is through audience engagement. Lastly, the media plays a role in the event tourism. The media is able to affect the perception of the event tourism which then could affect ticket sales and interest for international travellers.
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