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18 June 2014
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ISSUE 1, Summer 2007

Going digital

Going digital

By 2012 the UK will be a truly digital nation. The new technological landscape offers the BBC enormous opportunities to engage with our audience around the Olympics and Paralympics. And the work to make this possible is starting now.

By 2012 the analogue TV signal will have been switched off, broadband will have reached 80% of all homes, and urban spaces up and down the land will have been 'mediafied' - with things such as video screens and wi-fi - to an extent seen nowhere else in Europe.

This new digital landscape offers exciting opportunities for everyone connected with the London Games - from organisers and sponsors to spectators and athletes. For a broadcaster, the extent of ambition for an event like this is virtually endless. The BBC has the chance to use the new technology to promote creative ambition and to have an enormous impact with its audiences.

Is it fanciful to compare 2012 to 1953? Can the London Games do for digital media what Queen Elizabeth's Coronation famously did for television, making it part of everyday life? Comparisons with a less complex post-war age are probably trite - and in fact digital consumption in 2007 is already way ahead of where TV was in the early 1950s - but it does look as if 2012 could offer that elusive 'tipping point' where so-called new media become the mainstream. Choice, participation and personalisation will be the watchwords as audiences across the spectrum of age, race, region and social class start to engage with the Greatest Sporting Show on Earth. Of course, they will still watch traditional linear TV, but they will also be able to engage and interact with the Games in completely new ways. That's the opportunity.

With Beijing still a year away, London 2012 may feel like a distant prospect. But the five years will fly by, and the BBC is already starting work around a number of key areas.

First, BBC Sport Interactive is concentrating on its editorial aspirations and what it can deliver for the audience. The BBC has a fantastic rights package that gives us multiplatform coverage of the Olympics within the UK, so at the very least we aim to be able to show live action from every sport as it happens. This means growing from the six simultaneous streams on interactive TV and broadband that we will have in Beijing to up to 30 for London. Mobile devices, social networking and user-generated content will all need special focus.

Once we have our content aspirations in place we can start to assess what infrastructure and technology we need to deliver them. BBC Sport Interactive is working with colleagues in the Policy and Future Media & Technology departments on developing our infrastructure strategy and seeking permission for any new services.

Finally, it is crucial to recognise that we will not be doing this all on our own. Our business development team will foster constructive partnerships beyond the BBC - with the IOC and individual governing bodies; with sponsors and technologists; and with the media independents who are nimble and creative enough to keep us at the cutting edge of sports broadcasting.

So the digital Olympic bandwagon is already rolling. Feel free to jump aboard.

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