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Will 2012 be remembered as the first year of complete digital sport? The BBC claims that London 2012 will be the first truly digital games, as the public service broadcaster delivers unprecedented coverage across multiples platforms and allowing audiences to watch every single event live by Ben Darby O f course it wasn’t just the Olympics this year, the BBC and ITV succeeded in dusting off the country’s football aspirations once again, only to pack them away in the loft once more after a rather predictable penalty exit to the Euro 2012 runners up Italy. Nonetheless there was a much needed national sporting confidence boost in Bradley Wiggins Tour de France victory just in time for the London 2012 Olympics, an event that has been in the planning for 7 years. So arguably broadcasters have had enough time to prepare for such a colossal event. There have been huge innovations in online and broadcast video as well as ground breaking integration of in-depth data that has enabled broadcasters to enhance their own personalisation and social features to encourage participation on a larger scale. The BBC iPlayer has been praised hugely for its leading innovations in on- demand services, but now comes the ultimate test; broadcasting every Olympic sporting event live while the whole world is watching. The BBC claims to give audiences more choice than ever before by giving access to every event, sport and venue live, on-demand and interactive across the bbc. co.uk/sport site. The real challenge however lies in the broadcaster’s ability to offer detailed access to real-time updated Olympics data, statistics and news amongst the high quality coverage. The enhanced social features promise to enable audiences to follow and “favourite” every athlete, sport, event and country through tailored updates, using Twitter visualisations and social media 72 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE commentary to create more of a buzz within online communities. The truth is that when it comes to global events such as the Olympic Games, social features and online interactions are the best the way to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. I will always remember the 13th May 2012 as the first time I became completely immersed in the great atmosphere a social and broadcasting integration can create. Man City were ahead of Man United on goal difference ahead of the last game of the season, expected to win against QPR and take the Premier League Title. As you’re probably aware the events that unfolded were incredibly unforeseeable. City supporters were shocked to see the side losing to a team teetering on relegation at home, as United fans displayed a sense of complete anxiety awaiting the full time whistle. Of course City equalised and scored the winner in injury time. My Twitter feed was 100 times faster than ever. I remember one reputable sports journalist first using all 140 characters, then resorting to simply posting “F****** H***” (This is still the closest we have to revealing shocked excitement on Twitter). I will also remember it as the first time I spent just as much time watching Twitter than I had actually watching the game. The comments of others and social interaction not only made events more exciting, but it also gave people the platform to share this excitement with others. Of course we are all watching from home, but digitally we are all watching together. It is essentially social media integration that is driving the success of online video platforms amongst sports audiences. This year StreamMP, the online platform created by StreamUK and used by sports clubs including Liverpool FC, made a huge development by making social media functionality one of its most fundamental components.