The First Second-Screen Olympics: NBC Goes Mobile and Social

The 2012 London games have been called the "first social media Olympics," and a unique partnership between NBC and Facebook is a case in point. But the collaboration has another, equally important dimension: The broadcast network is determined to turn this year's summer games into a rich second-screen experience.

On Thursday, NBC unveiled two apps, for iOS devices and some Android devices, dedicated to Olympics coverage.

The first, NBC Olympics, is your standard sporting-event app, complete with highlights, schedules, results and a broadcast sync feature called Primetime Companion. But the second, NBC Olympics Live Extra, changes Olympics coverage in a fundamental way. This app gives users streaming access to coverage of all 32 sports, as well as live coverage of the awarding of 302 medals. The streaming app is expected to deliver 3,500 hours of video during the two weeks beginning July 27, eliminating the need for viewers to bear with NBC producers who decide which events are worth watching live and which are worth watching on tape delay.

NBC will also make much of the streaming footage available on nbcolympics.com. On mobile devices or on the Web, users will have to register using TV Everywhere to prove they have cable subscriptions to NBC, CNBC, MCNBC and Bravo, the NBC properties that will broadcast the games.

In addition to the deal with Facebook, NBC is expected to announce a similar deal with Twitter before the games begin and has hosted Google+ hangouts where fans can ask questions of qualified athletes. The deals create a feedback loop between the Olympics apps and apps for those social services.

“The hot spot for TV is that engagement leads to connection and commitment,” said John Corpus, CEO of Milyoni, a company that helps firms put content on Facebook. “The more directly involved people are, the more they care - this translates into increased viewership,” which translates into increased revenue.

Photo by AdamKR.