Aug 6, 2012 9:49 PM by Matt Stafford

Viewers have more options than ever for 'Social Olympics'

The last week we've changed our schedules to be glued to the TV, firmly planted on the couch watching the tense competition in the London Olympics. A lot of people are multi-taskers; not only watching the games on TV but taking to the web as well.

In 2008 for the Beijing games Twitter was just a baby, but now in London tons of the athletes are on Twitter. They're letting us read more about what they're experiencing. Many of us are getting it instantly, even on our phones, and sometimes that causes issues

"I definitely like the gymnastics and the swimming," says viewer Kelly Tullberg. "It was fun seeing Michael Phelps win all those medals."

"Some incredible athletes; it's really inspiring to watch," adds viewer Kate Schavey.

Faster athletes and faster access to information this time around; as expected, the internet is playing a larger role.

"I'm on Facebook all day long," says Tullberg.

The same goes for content on smart phones; there's more of it for the London games.

"People are calling this the Twitter Olympics, or the social Olympics," explains Amy McIlwain, president of Financial Social Media. She's been involved with social networking since the late 90s, and has never seen it as powerful as it is right now.

"It's taking down the barriers between the fans and the athletes," says McIlwain.

You can get to-the-second updates, some of them from the athletes themselves, but it causes problems too; lots of people don't want to know what happened before they see it on TV. Others don't seem to mind the 'spoilers'.

"Sometimes with them (kids yelling in background) I don't get to watch the whole thing, so at least then I know what's going to happen and I can see the parts that I want to see," says Tullberg.

In the newsroom we're tracking the latest all day; News Five's Paul Kavanaugh manages our web content.

"We have certain people that want to find out the results immediately, and we've been providing that through social media; sometimes with a 'spoiler alert'," explains Kavanaugh. "There are other people that want to wait until the event is broadcast later on in the evening."

It's a fine line to balance.

Spoilers or not people are still tuning in; 195 million for the first 9 days, morning noon and night according to NBC.

"A lot of them are watching both; they're listening to the real time coverage and then following along in the evening as well, and the conversations on the social networks are taking place during both times," says McIlwain. "This real time engagement has really been a phenomenal experience.

For the latest updates from the games check out our Olympic Zone page by clicking here.



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