August 1st has been a marathon day for Stuart Rowson and his team.
August 1st has been a marathon day for Stuart Rowson and his team. The web site editor for BBC Sport and his colleagues have put together unique coverage of Great Britain getting its first two gold medals thanks to rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning and the cyclist Bradley Wiggins. These medals saw Britain move up the medal tally, and through live texts, articles, columns and a vast social media presence, the UK and the wider world knew about it in the most unique way possible, thanks to them.
Rowson and his colleagues, when looking at covering the first true multimedia Olympics, are in a unique position. With a number of editors based in Salford (in Manchester where it is now based) and those at the Park, the BBC Sport web site has produced significant statistics on audiences in the UK and around the world, with July 31 statistics again at an all-time high—9.2 million clicks from international users and 6.8 million clicks by users in the UK—something, which let’s be honest, cannot be said of any other sport web site.
The planning for covering such an event, Rowson tells me, has been in the making for some time. “From an interactive view, this started when we got the Games,” Rowson said, adding that with the new Olympic player allowing a user to stream 24 live streams at once through the web site, mobile and an app for the PS3, in addition to utilising Ceefax and interactive TV. “Technologically, it’s been a success.”
When you log on to the BBC Sport web site, you are welcomed with an organised, interactive selection of articles, audio and video pieces, and other content that allows a unique view on the world of Sport, especially the Olympics. BBC Sport’s social media presence, especially on Twitter (where it has over 400,000 followers at this writing), has also allowed the web site to stand out.
Rowson adds that with Twitter and all availability, there is a challenge, Rowson says, to stay unique. “Some will only follow on Twitter, some will watch video and go to the site and go back to Twitter instead of the site,” Rowson said. “[There is a] unique pressure and unique focus as it’s the home games.”
The international statistics are, when you look at it, astounding, and Rowson says the international interest is down to trust. “The BBC is in a position of trust,” Rowson said. “We don’t sensationalise. We want to champion the event. It’s also about integral journalism. Our position across so many platforms gives us ability to capture the feeling of a nation.”
Rowson adds that there are discussions on video streams, but they can’t really be viewed online. “That makes our global figures more remarkable in the sense that people are coming to read the content we’re producing,” Rowson said.
The BBC is in a position to provide comprehensive and in-depth services as it is a public broadcaster. It does that with the Olympics coverage for its audiences in the UK and around the world, and the dedication given shows the position BBC Sport is in to provide interactive, innovative, and unique content that will keep people everywhere coming back.
In the end, the wide interest is special, because the BBC is part of what it means to be British with its in-depth and comprehensive work. “We have done that on all our platforms,” Rowson said. “It’s uniquely British.”
You can visit BBC Sport online: www.bbc.co.uk/sport
EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece is part of a series for Kettle on London 2012 and the press.