This paper principally concentrates on exploring and discussing the overall application and advancement of new media within Beijing and London Olympics. In general, the attention paid to the subject of the application and development of new media in Olympics by the author, as well as the corresponding researches on the subject in this paper, originates from a research on the development course of HDTV in the college classroom.
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At the time, the research group of the author summarized the development courses of HDTV in developed countries such as US, European countries and Japan in details. In the processing of numerous documents and interview materials, the giant promotion effect of international large-scale sports events on HDTV throughout the world has impressed me to a large extent. Take Japan for example, the country has been utilizing Olympics as an experiment platform for HD technology since the research on HD technology by NHK in 1964.
In the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Japan innovatively used the analogue high definition television satellite broadcast standard division for HD trial broadcast (NHK 2010). In February 1992 and July 1992, it conducted 96-hour and 125-hour HD broadcasts for the Albertville Winter Olympics and Barcelona Olympics respectively. In February 1993, it conducted 109-hour HD broadcast for Lillehammer Winter Olympics.
The time of HD broadcast in the Atlanta Olympics in June 1996 increased to 276, and 273 hours in the Nagano Winter Olympics two years after. In 2000, NHK has realized 24-hour full HD broadcast, and HD broadcast in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and 2004 Athens Olympics (ibid.). The development history of Japan HDTV is the application history of HD technology in Olympics. The promoting and facilitating effects of Olympics on the new media of HDTV impressed me deeply.
Even if, leaving aside the Olympic Games, the relation between sports and the media is considered, we find that there is a strong interrelation between the two. Both are dependent on each other for success. On one hand, sports provide interesting content to media for broadcasting (that might increase their TRP) and on the other hand, media give the required exposure to sports (Lefever 2012).
It is also eminent to understand the importance of media and the level of access granted to it by the Olympics or the concerned government. Considering the Beijing Olympics 2008, the Chinese government passed a law according to which the overseas journalists were allowed access into the country to cover the Olympic Games. Such access was supposed to be in place until 17th October 2008. Under the provision, both accredited and non-accredited journalists were allowed to enter the country (Adi 2010; Miah 2008a).
I was honoured to be a media volunteer of 2008 Beijing Olympics and had the opportunity to comprehensively sort out and summarize the application and effects of new media during the process of Olympics. Thus, based on the collection of literature and materials, I conducted careful consultation and classification of relative materials such as reports and data on the application of new media in Olympics, including newspapers such as “People’s Daily”, “Beijing Daily”, “The Beijing News”, “Beijing Youth Daily”, “Beijing Business Today” and “Olympic Games Official Newspaper”, as well as online media from August 8th to October 1st 2008. During the process of data collection, I have gained preliminary understanding on the technology development, application scale and effect feedback of new media in Olympics.
After that, I participated in the user experience and medium publicity of CMMB Olympics promotion, which bestowed me the opportunity to further understand the application and user experience of mobile TV in Olympics. During the process of CMMB Olympics promotion, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television made abundant efforts to ensure the mobile multi-media broadcast to serve the Olympics: it set CMMB as the industrial standard of mobile multi-media broadcast before the Olympics, and began the network construction of 37 major regions throughout China, including the 6 Olympic cities, from 2005, and accelerated the chip R&D and terminal production of CMMB to ensure the terminal supplies during the Olympics (Guoming 2007).
During the process of Olympics, CMMB proposed the publicity slogan of “anytime and anywhere to see the Olympic Games”, which was intensively advertised by TV and print media. It established experience stores in districts with compact urban flows such as Zhongguancun, and successfully cooperated with China Mobile to embed CMMB chips in TD mobile phones to realize the simultaneous promotion with China 3G businesses (ibid.). Meanwhile, considering the factors such as market warm-up and serving for Olympics, CMMB announced to offer free broadcast from the Olympics to the end of 2008.
Gradually realizing the facts mentioned above through contact, I began to think what the inner driving force is for CMMB as a new media to attach so much importance to Olympics and undertake relative constructions of networks and terminals at giant cost. How can we evaluate the effects and influences of Olympic application in the introductory phase of new media? Will the Olympic promotion mode of HDTV still apply to mobile multi-media broadcast or other new media forms?
According to Olympic user survey of CMMB, the proportion of users that only watch TV for Olympic Games and news is gradually decreasing. This change has brought a new confusion to me: the traditional media such as TV, radio and newspaper have been the primary channel for us to understand the Olympics from the very beginning, and the Olympic information in such media has been combined to form the international sports event today. In other words, the Olympic Games we know today are the Olympic Games recorded by traditional media in dribs and drabs.
However, the emergence of new media such as mobile phones and networks has already changed the media contact habit of the audience in some degree (Umaschi 2010). Therefore, to what extent will the application of new media in Olympics influence the Olympic Games we’re familiar with? Which aspects will the changes realized? What kind of fresh significance will be bestowed to the Olympic Games that we’re accustomed to from traditional media in the new media environment? What kind of profound effects will be brought to the Olympic Games by these changes?
The concept of viewing television for content depends on the mindset of people living in different cities (such as first-tier, second-tier and third-tier). People living in first-tier cities rely mainly on their gadgets for viewing content from anywhere. In such cities, life is so busy that people don’t have time to watch television at home. As a result, they have to rely on their gadgets such as mobile phones, tablets, etc. On the other hand, people residing in second and third-tier cities have enough time to spend at their homes. As such, they have the option to view television programs (Zhao 2012).
To sum up, the summarization and research on the application and development of new media in the two Olympic Games in this paper on the one hand takes the Olympic Games as a case to research the combination of new media contents and channels, in order to demonstrate the combination of the new media industry and digital content industry and discuss the co-construction of large-scale content resources and diverse channels; and on the other hand compares the respective development characteristics of new media in China and Britain facing equal large-scale content resources and development opportunities with different national economic levels, political institutions and market environments, in order to explore the in-depth reasons for the differences.
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Basic Conceptions and Brief Introduction of the Research
Since the topic of this study is based on new media, it is imperative to understand its exact meaning. The words ‘medium’ and ‘media’ have been misunderstood by people throughout the years. There is a misconception that newspapers and magazines are media. Even television, radio and internet are considered to be media. The fact is that all of these are vehicles of different kinds of communication media (Crosbie 2006).
New media can be better understood if colloquial connotation of the word ‘media’ is abandoned. Media should not be befuddled with its vehicles. The meaning of media that people understand, in fact refers to the vehicles contained by that media. It is necessary to understand the manner in which the words media and vehicles relate to each other. The words are very simple to understand but the misconceptions act as hindrances to the understanding. Such misconceptions and notions need to be discarded.
In order to understand the actual meaning of media, it would be worthwhile to consider the case of transportation media. There are three kinds of transportation media: land, water and sky. The former two (land and water) have been used by mankind since several hundreds of years. The third one (sky) has been added as a result of developments in technology. These media have their own vehicles to transport people and cargo. Like for instance vehicle for the land media are car, bus, truck, etc. those for the water media are boat, ship, canoe, etc. Finally, aircrafts and choppers are vehicles for the sky media.
All the three media have their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the vehicles of land media can transport people and cargo to the nearest place (door to door delivery) but they cannot carry large loads (number of people and huge cargo). The vehicles of water media have the advantage of carrying huge loads but they cannot make door to door deliveries. The vehicles of sky media have the characteristics of both land and water media. It is noteworthy that land and water media can have vehicles that do not need any technology (such as walking on foot and swimming) but the sky media has been possible due to technological advancement and it is not possible to make its use without technology.
Likewise the transportation media, there are three kinds of communication media, namely Interpersonal Medium, Mass Medium and New Medium. These three communication media also have their respective advantages and disadvantages. Interpersonal medium (not a well known name) has been in use by human beings since time immemorial. Advantages of this medium include control over content by both the involved parties and personalization of the content.
Disadvantages of this medium include haphazard and unruly scenarios when there is an increase in the number of participants. In such circumstances, personalization of content is not possible. Owing to this advantage, interpersonal media is generally used between two persons only and for that reason, it is also termed as one-to-one medium. Letters, phone calls and e-mails are examples of vehicles of the interpersonal medium.
Mass medium, as the name suggests, is targeted at the masses or the public. The origin of mass medium can be attributed to the initial years of civilizations when leaders (including religious leaders) addressed their followers. Mass medium of today has the same characteristics except for the fact technological advancements have increased its pace and exposure.
Communication originates from various sources such as publishers, broadcasters, leaders, etc. and reaches the global audience. Advantages of mass medium include similarity of content for the audience (irrespective of location) and sender’s control over the content. Disadvantages of this medium include impracticality of personalization of the content and the audience having no control over the content. Printed materials (newspapers, magazines, journals, etc.), discourses, advertisements, films, radio, television, etc. are examples of vehicles of mass medium.
It is understood that both interpersonal and mass media allowed the communicator to personalize (for a single person) or generalize (for the public) the content to be conveyed. This means that personalization of content for the masses was not possible. Over the years, there have been several modifications to the technology and the concept of communication and the scenario is completely different.
Just as technology had made it possible to use sky as a medium for transportation, new media was invented as a medium for communication. Technologies such as ‘digital communication’, ‘Transport Control’, ‘Internet Protocol’, and ‘Hyper Text Transport Protocol’ have been of great assistance in making the new media an instant success. The availability of internet for the masses from 1992 onwards has also been of great help. The characteristics of the new media were not imaginable earlier but the technologies mentioned above made it a reality.
The features that were not possible in the interpersonal and mass media are now available in new media. Now, the content can be personalized for the masses and all the concerned parties (such as the communicator and the audience) have control over the content. It means that the new media has the features of both interpersonal and mass media. As was the case with the sky media for transportation, there are certain disadvantages of the new media as well. In mass media, the communicator has the option to personalize the content for the masses but communicating individually (one at a time) is not possible. Laptops, CD-ROMs, mobile phone sets, etc. are examples of vehicles of new media.
A prevalent misconception suggests that the new media is merely an expansion of mass media; the only addition being the addition of electronic transmission of content. The misconception arises from the fact that the new media has the characteristics of both interpersonal and mass media. Considering the new medium as an extension of mass medium that does not use paper or cables is a misconception that actually undermines its capabilities.
It is true that likewise new media, mass media is also able to target the masses but the individuality factor is not available in mass media. Like for instance, newspapers (a vehicle of mass media) can have a global audience but the reader does not have the choice to view only a particular news item; the complete newspaper has to be viewed. On the other hand, in a mobile phone set (a vehicle of new media) the user has the option of viewing only the topics of interest.
New media has impacted global aspects such as finance, political beliefs and exchange of thoughts. The connections that new media has made have helped in making global business and transactions a reality (Socha & Eber-Schmid 2009). In China, the conception of new media is a relative term to traditional media. The major difference between the two is “digitalization” (Scotton & Hachten 2010).
In 1946, the emergence of the first general purpose digital computer of the world lifted the curtain on digital communication. As a new starting point with profound significance in the technology history of human beings, the constant elevation and extensive application of computer technology have greatly improved the capabilities of information processing and storage for human beings. The emergence and global popularization of computer networks have expanded the space for information communications to a large extent.
In 1995, Negroponte, professor of MIT and director of media laboratory published the “Being Digital”, which elevated digital communication to an unprecedented height. He claimed that corresponding to the elementary particles in the material world—“atoms”, the elementary particles in the new world of information era is “Bit”. He pointed out that “Bit, as the DNA of information, is rapidly replacing atoms to become the basic element of human society” (Negroponte 1996), while with the effects of the new information communication form, “computation is not about computers any more. It’s about living” (Negroponte 1996).
Today, it seems that the significance of the publication of “Being Digital” is that “if there must be a new declaration for the coming of every new era, the book is definitely to declaration to appeal for and declare the coming of the information era (digital communication era).
With the all-round development of new media industry throughout the world in the new century, the understandings of digital communication in the academic circle and the industry have been constantly deepened with constant emergence of new conceptions and definitions.
From the angle of the digitalization of traditional media, Min Dahong, research associate of Institute of Journalism and Communication of CASS, has defined digital as “the process of digital technology in the field of information to all the fields of human life, including the transition process to replace traditional analogue signal system with digital signal system in the fields of communication and mass media, etc. (Dahong 2001).
At the end of 2005, the expert group of computer software and hardware technology subject of China National 863 Program compiled the “White paper of the digital media technology development in China 2005”, which defined digital media that “digital media is the whole process to distribute digital content products to terminals and users for consumption with the major communication carrier of modern network via mature service system”. The definition has emphasized that digital media communicate via network, and the contents of media such as discs have been excluded from the range of digital media.
Professor Xiong Chengyu, director of the Centre for New Media Studies Tsinghua University, has explicated the meaning of digital communication technology from the viewpoint of media development, and has proposed the conception of “Information Society 4.0”. He emphasizes that new media is a relative conception, while the “new” is relative to “old”. In the process of media generation and development, we can see that the new media is constantly changing along with the generation and development of media (Chengyu, 2001).
The new media mentioned today refer to the media forms emerging and influenced on the basis of digital communication technologies such as computer information processing, etc. thus, the digital communication technology is a phase of the current process of media development, and the media development will not terminate on the platform of digital media (Monaco 1999). With the development of science and technology, the media form is also constantly changing, and the attention on the new media form after digital media will become academic hot spot one day.
In the “Information Society 4.0”, he has formally proposed the four phases of China information society development. In the 4.0 phase of information society, information will obtain important position in economy and life as production means and commodity, and will become the most efficient productivity, while technology will withdraw to become tools to obtain, process and communicate information applications (Chengyu, 2001). The viewpoint of Professor Xiong has emphasized that the digital communication technology has important functions in the current media reform, and has undertaken objective analysis on the history and phases of digital communication technology from the macro perspective of media development.
New media has acquired the centre stage in the world and it gives the users certain new experiences such as new way of communicating, and representing oneself, new relations among people and technology, and new outlook of the world. Such experiences are ought to have an impact on the traditions and cultures of global societies (Hampton & Wellman 1999; Singh 2010). Finally, media is not about getting information alone, it is about sentiments (about life, drama, throbbing, apprehension and contentment) that people want to share among themselves.
Yu Guoming, professor of the School of Journalism and Communication, Renmin University of China, has concluded the characteristics of digital communication into the following aspects in his research on new media:
First, the digital communication mode brought by the development of science and technology is the most important characteristic of new media. Compared with the former communication technologies, digital communication has the feature of two-way interaction, and the initiative of information receiving has been transferred to the aspect of audience; second, the digital communication technology has changed the characteristics of the former synchronism of audience with radio and TV, and has realized asynchronism, i.e. the audience can listen to or watch the programs at any given time, and the audio or video programs may be repeatedly enjoyed if the audience is interested in them; third, the digital communication technology has changed the former situation of strictly controlled media information, so that more freedom has been endowed to the communication of information, especially the abundant information resources formed by the powerful functions of the Internet, and; finally, the digital communication technology has changed the regional communication characteristics of many media before, and has expanded the range of communication to the whole world, which is a powerful factor to promote the globalization for it enables everyone to communicate information in any form with anyone else anywhere and anytime (Guoming 2007).
With the extensive researches on the conceptions and connotations on digital communication and digital media mentioned above, combining with the understanding of relative fields in this research, the paper has defined the term “digital communication” as follows:
Digital communication refers to a brand-new way of digital information production, processing and communication, which breaks through the confinements of traditional media and integrates the latest technologies related to Internet, wireless communication, digital broadcast and application software in the circumstances of information digitalization to a great extent.
CMMB is the acronym of China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting, which is one of the technical standards of mobile TV. It was promoted throughout China before 2008 Beijing Olympics as the industrial standard of mobile TV broadcasting. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television published two industrial standards of CMMB: GY/T 220.1, 2006 “Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting Part 1: Framing Structure, Channel Coding and Modulation for Broadcasting Channel” and “Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting Part 2: Multiplexing, on October 24th 2006 and November 29th 2006 respectively, and the other standards would be published in succession (Ruffolo 2012).
It is also planned to take the independent developed Chinese standards AVS and DRA as source coding standards, and the key to the standard system is the channel standard: “Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting Part 1: Framing Structure, Channel Coding and Modulation for Broadcasting Channel”. The channel standard of CMMB applies to 30MHz to 3000MHz.
The reason why it is also called S-TiMi standard is that the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television plans to realize high power and large-scale coverage of band S throughout China by two band S synchronous satellites in the same orbit, in order to construct a single-frequency network for mobile multimedia broadcasting covering the whole country. However, the standard system doesn’t repel the network construction by means of ground-based transmission.
It is true that new media has been instrumental in bringing together the world communities to a great extent, but there has been a subsequent impact on the traditions of various cultures. People tend to adopt different cultures while forgetting their own values (Bagdasaryan 2011). Even though new media is not meant to create loss of cultural identities, its advent has created void between the old and new cultural traditions (Pfister & Soliz 2011). There have been a lot of dissimilarities as far as language, cultural themes and maps, and logics of old and new cultures are concerned (Shuter 2011). Considering all such aspects, several scholars are concerned about the future of intercultural relations (Allwood & Schroeder 2000).
In compliance of its features, new media allows people and authorities to form their image in a manner suitable or preferable to them. The global cultural differences affect the manner in which the message content is framed. Media within different cultures have different limits as far as broadcasting the kind of content is concerned (Chen & Dai 2012). Such limits are based on the cultural values and their roots (Hotier 2011). Due to these limits, there are various conflicts among the global cultures.
It was due to such conflicts that Google withdrew from China during Beijing Olympics. Yifan (2010) suggests that exit of Google was a deliberate attempt in order to accommodate local players of this field. In fact, in the global community, China is considered to be dictatorial, unreasonable, diffident and inexplicable country (Ni 2008; Zhou 2007). The Western media has often condemned the Chinese government for violating human rights, bribery culture, communal insecurity, and ecological contamination (Ding 2010). There have been various incidents of unrest in China during the Beijing Olympics; arrest of two elderly women who wanted to protest about some issue, bus bombing in Shanghai, killing of police personnel, etc. are examples of insecurity in China (Scotton & Hachten 2010).
In order to improve its global image, the Chinese government adopted a three-tier program for the Beijing Olympics that included concerns about ecology, human rights and technology (Gan & Peng 2008). In spite of the fact that most of the Western media recognized the success of the Chinese government’s initiatives (Shi 2009), a couple of media agencies emphasized on the failure of the Chinese government in controlling the mass protests during Beijing Olympics. Such agencies also condemned the Chinese government for going back on its words of providing free speech throughout the Beijing Olympic Games.
Murray (2011) argues that such prejudiced behaviour of media agencies such as ‘Washington Post’ and ‘New York Times’ was due to the fact that the Western media is based on freedom of speech, human rights and social equality; these aspects do not match the Chinese scenario. It is believed that media agencies regularly portray the country’s schema, preferences and values (Bennett 1990). Such depiction often leads to intercultural disputes and confrontation among nations (Entman 1991).
Social media is also called socialized media. In the environment of new media, abundant applications of emerging media have changed the habit of audience to contact with media, and the communication patterns of information (MacNamara 2010). Among these, the most obvious change is the transfer and decentralization of the power of communication. The audience has obtained more and more power to lead and control the media, and the corresponding relationships between media resources and attention resources are also being adjusted.
In order to grasp the change, by researching online applications such as blogs and SNS communities, foreign scholars have proposed the conception of “social media”, which is defined by Wikipedia as the process of users to share all kinds of contents via online technology.
In terms of this perspective, the social media has certain peculiar characteristics that are mentioned below:
- Editability – The traditional relationship of communication and receiving has been broken, and the audience is both the receiver and sender of information.
- Popularity – There are a great number of participants in social media, e.g. according to the data of traffic statistics website Alexa, Twitter has already realized nearly 20 million visits every day, and ranks top 15 in the U.S., Britain and Canada.
- Generalization of content – From blog to micro blog, the threshold of online content production is constantly decreasing, and people are able to share any kind of contents by their favourite means, while the types and forms of contents are gradually generalized to form the system of oceans of information.
- Topics – On May 16th 2010, a micro blog about a critically ill one-year-old girl searching for effective drugs aroused attention of netizens, who forwarded the message for 19807 times to establish a giant relationship network and finally found the needed drug.
- Accessibility – The network existing anywhere and the terminals with a great variety of functions have enabled us to share information anytime and anywhere (Van-Dijk 2006).
For the purpose of this study, the following research questions need to be answered:
- How is new media different from old media?
- What developments (in the media field) have taken place during the transformation from old media to new media?
- What are the major characteristics of the development of new media in the Beijing and London Olympics?
- What is the course of the development and interaction of media and Olympics?
- Explain the application and development of new media in Olympics.
The topic of this paper is the interaction relationships between international crucial events and the media industry. The Olympic Games represent the overall activation of commercial resources, and the market is the source of driving force of the industry. During the process of media evolution, the Olympic Games are not only the experimental fields of media technologies of different periods, but also the media industry development propeller of different stages (Noll 2007).
Newspaper, radio, television, and various other communication technologies have very important part to play in the promotion and accomplishment of the Olympic Games (The media and the Olympics n.d. para. 1). Therefore, the first part of research in this paper will first review the development history of media industry in Olympics, and summarize the application, development and evolution in modern Olympic Games from broadcast technology to digital technology. Each Olympic Games has experienced a boom in terms of technology. The technology used in Sochi Olympics was better than the one used in London Olympics, which in turn was better than the Beijing Olympics (Zoloterev 2014).
Since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the new media industry with digital communication technology as the major driving force has been developing throughout the world in an increasing speed, and has led to many emerging media forms, which have changed the traditional media using habits of audience while bringing new vitality to Olympics (Ruffolo 2012).
As a global sports event, Olympic Games have provided a rare platform for the practice and detection of new media. On the other hand, the new media is also updating the methods of audience throughout the world to perceive and participate in Olympics. New media has also enabled the people who are not related to the media industry to express their views on various topics (Finlay 2011). Therefore, the mutual influence and promotion between new media and Olympic Games combine the second part of the research of this paper.
At the same time, since there are natural differences in the development levels of media industry of the host countries of Olympic Games, which also have differences in economic status and political institutions, the development situations of the new media application in Beijing Olympics and London Olympics have respective characteristics.
Comparing the application situations of new media in the two Olympic Games and their different development emphases, the differences in culture, politics and economy status between China and Britain can be reflected by the media industry, so that the research may reveal an overall scene from a slight niche. Therefore, the comparative research on the new media developments in Beijing Olympics and London Olympics is the third part of the research of the paper.
Literature Collection and Analysis
By material summarization and follow-up investigations, the paper researches on the public service mode and commercial application mode of new media forms represented by mobile phones, mobile multimedia broadcasting, cable digital TV, and DAB/DMB in the communication of Olympics and providing of Olympic information services, which are systematically sorted out and summarized.
Expert Group Interview
The methods of expert consultation and academic seminars are used to discuss and analyze the influences of new media in Olympic Games, and the practical case surveys and analyses are combined to construct the analysis framework of the paper on the comparative researches of the applications and developments of new media in Beijing Olympics and London Olympics.
Field Survey and Research
As a 2008 Beijing Olympics volunteer, the author participated in the whole process of Olympic schedule broadcasting and introductory services, and contacted a great number of Chinese and foreign journalists in Olympic venues. The real experience of the application of all kinds of new media forms in the process of Beijing Olympics and the accumulation of abundant precious historic data and materials have laid a profound basis for the smooth implementation of the research.
The author happened to be doing the master’s degree in London School of Economics and Political Science during the 2012 London Olympics, and had the opportunity to experience the abundant new media technologies and new media applications during the process of the opening ceremony and schedule broadcasting throughout the whole process.
The fresh materials of new media application and development in London Olympics collected have provided effective supports for the comparative research on the development of new media in the two Olympic Games. With the increase in new media options, the viewership has increased. Prior to the London Olympics, Phoenix new media company had expected that more than 35 million customers would be served by the company’s coverage (Phoenix 2012).
Moreover, Olympic broadcasting has helped the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in managing funds for its operations. The Olympics Games have become popular among the audience and the IOC has been able to spread an awareness of the Olympic values (IOC 2012). Olympic Games are considered to be of top priority within the media circles and as such, the broadcasting rights have a crucial role to play (IOC 2013).
The IOC suffered a financial crisis from 1980 onwards and broadcasting rights were considered to be a channel to overcome such crisis (Miah 2008b). The Chinese government had gone to the extent of considering the Olympic Games as a matter of national identity (Latham 2009). The Chinese government adopted new media as a channel to develop its communication technology and Olympic Games as a stage to portray the same (Martinez & Latham 2013).
Course of the Development and Interaction of Media and Olympics
Development of Broadcast Media and Olympics
Samaranch, ex-president of IOC believed that the various media had the power to make international games thriving and successful. Just looking back the development course of Olympics, we can easily discover that nearly all the sports stars that are still remembered by people and the retrievable visual images of games are after the appearance of TV.
It can be said that the Olympics known by people in the history is the Olympics recorded by radio signals; the Olympics enjoyed by the whole world today is the Olympics shown by broadcast media. The broadcast media has become the most important communication medium and amplification device for Olympic information, and communicates every detail of the Olympics to the whole world (Xiong 2008).
The combination of broadcast media and Olympics is a process that is constantly deepened with the development of technology. Since the appearance of broadcast technology at the end of the 18th century, the communication of Olympic information has entered the era of TV live broadcasting after telegram, wireless telegraphy, and radio (Kennedy & Hills 2009). The transforms of broadcasting media also brought historical revolutions to the Olympics.
There are mainly three kinds of parties that are involved in the broadcasting (besides the government of the concerned nation) namely, the sports organizations (such as International Olympic Committee and national Olympic committees), broadcasters and the TV operators (Eagleman & Burch 2014). The main aim of these parties is to garner maximum revenue. Broadcasting rights (given by the concerned government) promote sport based programs on television and other media vehicles.
Since the programs are viewed by the audience on different kinds of media vehicles, their funding procedure also differs. Like for example, when the broadcasting rights specify free-to-air viewing, the method adopted for funding purpose is airing advertisements in between the programs. It is the endeavour of such companies to garner maximum viewership. Events like international games, sports and Olympics do not need any convincing for the audience (Nicholson 2007).
In the Unites states of America, the broadcasting rights are governed by the Unites States Olympic Committee (USOC). In spite of the fact that majority of the revenue is earned from the domestic television operators, there has always been a conflict in assigning the broadcasting rights (Peňa 2009). Barney, Wenn and Martin (2002) suggest that it has always been the endeavour of the USOC to get more distribution rights and sponsorships. The American broadcasting scenario has been criticized due to the fact that even though Europe is bigger in size and viewership than the United States, its operators pay only 5% of the amount paid by American operators. As a result, the American operators have to air more commercials during programs to cover their costs (Peňa 2009).
Course of the Development of Broadcast Media in Olympics
“Telegram Olympics”—the beginning of the application of broadcast media in Olympics
The combination of broadcast technology and Olympics began from the first modern Olympic Games hosted by Athens in 1896. Before then, on-site participation was the only way to take part in Olympics. However, in the 1896 Athens Olympic Games, the emerging telegram technology was used for Olympic information communication, which declared that the Olympics made the first step “toward the world”. This is the starting point for the modern Olympic Games to reach the world from a region.
Although telegram played a positive role in 1896 Athens Olympics, it still could not solve the fundamental problems existing in the Olympic information communication. This is because first, telegram is not able to become a mass media to realize communication towards groups, and the only approach for the audience to understand Olympic information was newspapers of limited quantity. Second, the lack of instant information communication channels made newspapers fail to timely update the content resources, and thus led to serious delay of news information. Last, because of the limited expression mode of telegram, the contents of telegram Olympic reports were only confined to the communication of results, which was too simple.
“Radio Olympics”—the prelude of live broadcasting of Olympics
The commercial wireless radio technology was applied for the first time in 1924 Paris Olympics. According to statistics, radio reports in 28 languages for 2500 hours were made in Berlin Olympics (Xiong 2008), which was the first time for the radio media to report Olympic Games for a long time.
Radio brought Olympics to the stage of live broadcasting, and elevated the efficiency and range of Olympic news communication; second, it strengthened the attention of audience paid to Olympics, and; finally, radio broadcasting is the further extension of the internationalization of Olympics.
However, radio broadcasting has inevitable disadvantages: it is very difficult to make the audience feel in the field only by score reports and language explanation; second, it is also difficult to catch the dynamic conditions in the venue, and; third, the core to experience sports games is “watching” other than “listening”. The disadvantages of radio media determined that there must be a more comprehensive media to exert more important functions in the broadcasting of Olympic Games.
“TV Olympics”—important medium of Olympics globalization
After radio media, the integration of TV and Olympics became an important milestone in the broadcasting of Olympic information. TV is the assembly of all the advantages of radio media, and has compensated all the disadvantages of radio in the broadcasting of sports events. However, as a new technology, the combination of TV and Olympics was not realized at one stroke. It took about 30 years for the combination to develop from experiments to maturity.
1936 Berlin Olympics were the first Olympic Games that used TV for live broadcasting. Limited by conditions, TV terminal receivers were only set in 25 grand auditoriums in Berlin and some major cities, and only track & field and swimming games were broadcast. According to statistics, the closed circuit TV used to broadcast the Olympic Games enabled an audience of about 16.12 million to watch the live broadcasting of Olympics (Moragas, Rivenburgh & Larson 1995).
The broadcasting with strong sense of experiment was preliminary successful and opened a historic new era of “TV Olympics”. According to Balfour (2013), “The secret is that if you get it all right, if your deliver it all properly, if you keep the narrative consistent and keep the media onside, ultimately when you got to the Games all you are doing is orchestrating emotion on a massive scale” (p. 1).
TV technology began to make excellent performances in 1964 Tokyo Olympics after matured and developed for nearly 30 years after Berlin Olympics (NHK 2010). It is shown that in order to ensure the broadcasting coverage and receiving effects of Tokyo Olympics, Japan asked the U.S. to help it launch a communication satellite called “Syncom-3”, which was dedicated to the broadcasting of Olympic Games, and opened the satellite era of Olympic Games.
From the review of the evolution course of “TV Olympics” above, we can see that the information communications of modern Olympics experienced the progressing process of on-site attending, telegram release, radio listening and TV broadcasting. The conversions of media forms always lead to revolutions of the Olympic history, and are key driving forces to lead Olympic Games to internationalization.
Effects and Significance of TV on Olympics
TV expanded the influence of Olympics to a large extent
TV expanded the communication range of Olympic information
The development course of radio communication technology applied in Olympics is the progressive course of Olympics towards internationalization, as well as the course of the increasingly strengthened influence of Olympics. From the brief information communication of telegram to the whole-process TV broadcasting, Olympic information has been transferred from newspapers to TV in terms of communication media, from regions to the whole world in terms of communication space, and from “delayed” to “real-time” in terms of communication period. Every change has elevated the global influence of Olympics to a great extent, and has led to leaps and bounds of the internationalization of Olympics.
TV has increased the population participating in Olympics in a great degree
The population participating in Olympics has a lot to do with the communication range of Olympic information. The appearance of TV Olympics has activated the potential demands of the sports market within international scope while expanding the communication range of Olympic information, thus the population participating in Olympics increased in a great degree.
Table 1.1 Audience Populations of Olympic Games Broadcasting (Huixin & Lanzhu 2006).
|Year||Name||Broadcasting Mode||Audience Population (0.1 billion)|
|1964||18thOlympics||The first time to realize satellite live broadcasting||About 1.0|
|1968||19thOlympics||Live broadcasting in 12 languages by 7 channels||5.0|
|1972||20thOlympics||Live broadcasting in 60 commentary channels by 12 channels||15.0|
|1976||21stOlympics||First time of whole-process live broadcasting||About 10.0|
|1980||22ndOlympics||Live broadcasting||About 20.0|
|1984||23rdOlympics||Live broadcasting||About 20.0 per day|
|1988||24thOlympics||Live broadcasting||About 25.0 per day|
|1992||25thOlympics||Live broadcasting||About 30.0 per day|
|1996||26thOlympics||Live broadcasting||About 35.0 per day|
TV Olympics has led Olympics to the road of commercialization
The application of radio communication technology elevated the international influence of Olympic Games to a large extent (Chou 2012). However, it didn’t bring considerable economic profit to Olympics instantly. The costs of Olympic Games were almost paid by the IOC and Olympic Committee of host country independently, and it even faced the risk of bankruptcy in 1950.
The gradual popularization of TV provided chances for Olympics to commercialization with the assistance of TV. IOC began to sell the TV broadcasting rights in 1956 Melbourne Olympics, which was the beginning of the commercialization of Olympics. Later, the combination of TV and satellite increased the audience scope and scale of Olympics. In 1995, IOC sold the broadcasting rights of Olympics from 1996 to 2008, and signed TV broadcasting contracts of 5.1 billion USD (Huixin and Lanzhu 2006). The commercial values of Olympics reached an unparalleled height because of the satellite TV broadcasting.
TV has upgraded Olympics from “sports games” to “entertainment culture”
The combination of TV and Olympics has endowed more diverse connotation to the Olympics besides sports. First of all, the combination of TV and Olympics has promoted the “idolization” of Olympics. Second, idols are cores of entertainment industry, and the transmission transition from sports industry to entertainment industry has been realized. Referring to a study by Kim, Sohn, and Choi (2011), Chen & Dai (2012) suggests that Korean students make use of social media to gain more social support, whereas American students use social media for entertainment and not any social motives.
Without the intervention of a series of communication modes generated by radio technology, the Olympic Games today may be only a normal sports event of a country, or even a city with the meaning of nationwide fitness. The formation and development of the mutual relationship between TV and Olympics experienced a long period of adjustment and running-in, and is a process of constant deepening (Moragas, Rivenburgh & Larson 1995).
The application of TV in Olympics has also accelerated the popularization of TV from a mere technology. The relationship between the two has already been harmonious. In this case, will the transfer from “TV Olympics” to “new media Olympics” driven by current digital technology has the nature of continuity? Is this transfer the development trend driven by the giant wheel of history? What kind of influences will the combination of new media and Olympics bring to each other?
New Media and “Omni Media Olympics”
Brief Introduction of the Development of New Media
Conception and connotation of “new media”
The term “new media” in this paper mainly refers to the series of emerging media forms since mid 1990s in terms of time. In terms of technology, the inner driving force to the updating and replacement of media is the constant revolutions of technology (Noll 2007). New media mainly consist of the following three types:
- Media forms generated with the driving force of new technology – Take mobile phone and computer for example, this is a brand-new media form that did not exist before and appeared along with the development of technology.
- Media forms brought by the combination of traditional media and new media – For example, the combination of mobile phone and TV generated the new media form: mobile TV. There are also similar examples such as IPTV and blog, etc (Ferrand, Chappelet & Seguin 2012).
- The emerging media form generated from the digitalization of traditional media – Take TV for example, digital technology has changed a series of steps from program making, transmission network to receiving terminal, and thus brought new reformation and new institutions within the TV media to form the new media form represented by digital TV (ibid.).
The Application and Development of New Media in Olympics
Development Course of the Application of New Media in Olympics
Stage of Comprehensive Application of New Media Forms
The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was a milestone of the application of new media in Olympics. First of all, Beijing Olympics was the session with the most abundant forms of new media in the history. Emerging media including the Internet, HDTV, mobile TV and IPTV were introduced into the platform and the “Omni Media Olympics” with new and traditional media communicating Olympic information together was preliminary formed (Ruffolo 2012);
Second, new media became the broadcasting channel with official authorization in this Olympics for the first time. The protection of new media broadcasting right fully showed that the new media was gradually coming into the range of mainstream media;
Finally, the content resources of new media in Beijing Olympics were extremely abundant. According to statistics, from August 8th to August 24th, the cctv.com which acquired the new media broadcasting right broadcast programs of channels involving Olympics, such as CCTV-1, CCTV-2, CCTV-Olympics, and CCTV-7, meanwhile, it also realized long-distance live broadcasting of all the 28 sports and Olympic programs of 3800 hours, while provided services of video request programs and carousel broadcasting for netizens according to the games and schedule (Jarvie, Hwang & Brennan 2008).
Recently, NBC launched a new app through which viewers will have an option of viewing 1000 hours of content including highlights (Hebbard 2014). NBC is a strong competitor for other broadcasters. The company reportedly paid $1.18 billion to get the broadcasting rights for the London Olympics (Titlow 2012). In order to maintain the monopoly of NBC, all external links are cut off so that the viewers have to subscribe with NBC if they want to watch the Olympics games’ highlights (Dowbiggin 2012). Telecast of the fantastic coverage of the London Olympics was marred by frequent commercial breaks. There was a wide spread criticism but there was no improvement (Douglas 2012) NBC had to do this in order to cover its costs.
Stage of the in-depth Combination of New Media and Olympics
If Beijing Olympics is considered as the beginning of the comprehensive application of new media forms in Olympic communication, London Olympics is regarded as an important platform for all kinds of new media applications to implement in-depth combination with Olympic communication. New media application refers to the application programs and information communication modes rooted on the new media platform. For example, the ascendant social media and smart phone applications are representatives of new media applications. The dominant characteristics of new media application in London Olympics are in the fields of new media technology and social media.
Among these, on the aspect of new media technology, the virtual reality technology used in the opening ceremony of London Olympics had milestone significance (Debao 2013). The opening ceremony used the stereo synthesizer and 3D display techniques, interactive techniques, software and hardware integration techniques, multi-channel projection techniques, seamless splicing and edge blending techniques of virtual reality technology combined virtual images with audience in the reality, so that the factors of people and virtual images made up a hyper-grand screen, and the on-site audience and modern technology were integrated together.
As for the field of social media, the number of releases on Olympics in twitter at the day of the opening ceremony of London Olympics exceeded the number during the whole process of Beijing Olympics. Till August 13th 2012, there were already 1,571,482 fans of Twitter “@London2012”, and there were already more than 50 million releases of information related to Olympics in Twitter (ibid.).
Influence of Olympic Contents on the Development of New Media
Characteristics of Olympic Content
Olympic contents have abundant resources
The Olympics is a content resource system with giant volume. According to the statistics released by IOC, during Beijing Olympics, the audience of more than 200 countries and regions enjoyed more than 5000 hours of Olympic reports and game broadcasting through all kinds of media approaches. The reporting scale was three times of that of Athens Olympics, and four times of that of Sydney Olympics.
The content scale of London Olympics escalated to a higher level. According to statistics, the number of BBC programs during 2012 London Olympics was 4 times of that of Beijing Olympics, with 2500 hours of live broadcasting (Jarvie, Hwang & Brennan 2008). Meanwhile, all kinds of derivative content products developed with explosively. There was a great quantity of Olympic theme interviews and other relative Olympic contents. In Beijing Olympics, the “grass root” Olympic contents generated by platforms of blogs and podcasts revealed the high participation of the public, and became new content resources of new media.
Intensive releases within a short period
As remarked above, both Beijing Olympics and London Olympics contained thousands of hours of game content, which were communicated to the whole world by all kinds of media platforms within 17 days. Such a grand content system within such a short communication period definitely led to considerably full media program schedule. Meanwhile, the concentrative broadcasting of abundant programs related to Olympics made the media during Olympics an undeniable “Olympic Period”. According to Roger Mosey, the person in charge of London Olympics, “We’re going to make 24 live HD Olympic streams. It means that hockey fans can watch live uninterrupted hockey, and table tennis fans can stick all day with their sport too.”
High attention paid by the audience
The core of the index to judge the values of content resources is the attraction to the attention of the audience, and the value of content resource is in proportion to the attention paid by the audience. According to CSM media research audience rating monitoring data of August 9th 2008, there were altogether 780 million audience who watched the first game of the Olympics by TV broadcasting, which occupied 63.72% of the whole TV population of China.
The average per capita watching time reached 208 minutes on August 9th, which was another peak value of the daily per capital watching time in 2008 (Debao 2013). According to the data released by peoples.com.cn, the number of TV audience of the ceremony of London Olympics was as high as 900 million. It can be concluded that the Olympic contents have great attraction to the audience.
Effects of Olympic Contents to the Development of New Media
As is mentioned above, during the development process of new media, the lack of excellent content resources has always been one of the bottlenecks for the upgrade of industrial scale, while the Olympics leads to the explosion of a great amount of contents of high quality within a short period, which will definitely create important opportunities for the further development of new media. Concretely speaking, there are mainly the following three aspects of effects:
Olympic contents are powerful driving forces for new media to become “mainstream”
If a new media intends to become mainstream media, it must undertake social responsibilities in important events. The Olympics is an important social event that draws attention from the whole world. The reporting and broadcasting of Olympic contents indicate the social acceptance of the media influence, and is an important embodiment of the mainstream level of the media. In the process of the combination of new media and Olympics, the Internet video was used for Olympic broadcasting for the first time in Athens Olympics.
However, only 8 regions then conducted relayed broadcasting, and the acceptance level of new media on the platform of Olympics was relatively low. In Beijing Olympics, the real-time broadcasting channels using digital broadcasting technology were already able to broadcast to 77 countries and regions throughout the world via Internet. London Olympics realized real 3D live broadcasting, which used 33 Panasonic broadcast 3D cameras of 3Dp1 and 3Da1 (Lister et al. 2009).
The increasing importance of new media in Olympic communication reflects that the level of new media to take social responsibilities and participate in social hotspots in important events is constantly elevated.
Olympic content is a useful device for new media to explore market
The new media industry had already formed certain scale in the global scope before Beijing Olympics. However, the lack of high-quality content resources is always the greatest obstacle for new media to explore market. This is especially the case for some new media forms in the introductory phase. Attractive content is crucial to the rapid expansion of market shares.
Beijing Olympics was the first Olympic Games which was broadcast in digital mode and realized global receiving by means of online HD video and mobile TV (Ruffolo 2012). According to the statistics of CCTV Olympic Mobile TV, the daily visits to CCTV Mobile TV from August 8th to 17th 2008 was 20.25 million, and the audience share occupied 79.4% of the whole mobile TV network.
It can be seen that the combination of mobile TV and Olympic content brought a large rise of audience scale within a short period (the scale of August was 20 times of that of July). Meanwhile, during the period of Olympics, nearly 80% audience shares were from Olympic Mobile TV, and the centralization effects of audience behaviour brought by Olympic contents were obvious. It can be seen that the Olympic content is an effective measure for new media to explore market and cultivate the habit of users.
Comparison and Thoughts of the Development of New Media in the Two Olympics
Major Characteristics of the Development of New Media in the Two Olympics
Development of major new media in Beijing Olympics
Olympic Games are a rare event in China, and the significance of Olympics held in China to Chinese people may only be accurately explained by the deepest enthusiasm of each Chinese. The holding of Beijing 2008 Olympics elevated the development of China new media to an unprecedented height that IOC endowed the Olympic broadcasting right to new media independently for the first time to enlist new media such as the Internet and mobile phone into the broadcasting system of Olympics as independent broadcasting institutions (Ying 2008). It is also an unprecedented creation in the 100 year history of Olympics. Before Beijing Olympics, new media already began to prepare for competitions:
CMMB (China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting)
Beijing Olympics was the first Olympic Games broadcast by digital manners to realize global receiving via online HD video and mobile TV. When Beijing Olympics became a great opportunity for the promotion of CMMB, China Mobile customized 40,000 TD-SCDMA TV mobile phones with CMMB, so that CMMB became the major provider of mobile TV function in Beijing Olympics.
In July 2008, CMMB broadcasting frond ends and coverage networks were established in 37 cities to broadcast multiple TV channels of CCTV and local TV stations with fine receiving effects of clear images, smooth proceeding and stable signal, which were fully confirmed by leaders of the central government and universal appraise from Chinese and foreign guests as well as all walks of society (Xiong 2008).
In addition, it attracted more than 200 Chinese and foreign enterprises to participate in the industry league within one year to realize the transfer of CMMB technology from standard prototype to practical commercial products, and realized the large-scale production of terminal products. Manufacturers developed CMMB mobile phones, MP4, GPS and USB TV sticks of different price levels.
According to the statistics of CCTV Olympics mobile TV, from August 8th to 17th, 2008, the daily visits of CCTV mobile TV was 20.25 million, with an audience share of 79.4% in all the businesses of mobile TV (Debao 2013). It can be seen that the combination of mobile TV and Olympic contents brought a great rise of audience scale within a short period (the number in August increased by 20 times than that of July). Meanwhile, during the period of Olympics, nearly 80% audience share came from Olympic mobile TV, and the centralized effects of Olympic contents on audience behaviour were obvious. It can be seen that Olympic content is an effective measure for new media to explore market and cultivate user habits.
During 2008 Olympics, Beijing proposed the conception of “Hi-tech Olympics, digital Beijing”. The basic connotation of the conception is to enable anyone to safely, conveniently, rapidly and efficiently get access to affordable, abundant, multi-language intelligent, and individualized information services at any time in any place related to Olympics.
In order to fulfil the basic demands of network technology and ensure the smooth communication of the games and management of Olympics, a series of efforts were made from the government to the industry. Emerging broadcasting manners of mobile TV, online video and HDTV began to be fully applied in Olympic Games.
According to the “Research Report of Beijing 2008 Olympics Internet Communication Effects” published by CNNIC, online video report became a highlight in the period of Olympics, and online video already became a mainstream media form. According to statistics, the there were 72432 effective online video content resources. The total amount of video resources already exceeded traditional TV media.
As for the audience acceptance of online video, according to surveys of CCTV international, 82% of the audience was eager to watch the video broadcasting of Olympics by new media (mainly network and mobile phone). According to Wrating statistics, during the whole process of Olympics, 23.3% of the netizens definitely watched the online video broadcasting, and 11% of the netizens only understood information related to Olympics by means of online video.
In addition to the communication of Olympic information, new media also has an important task, the exploration of effective profit mode to realize commercial values (Ying 2008). Currently, the profit mode of paid contents for Chinese media is yet to mature, and advertisement is still the major income of media operation. The core of advertisement value is audience rate, and Olympic contents are effective guarantee of the audience rate.
Take online video for example, Olympic videos brought to great increases of traffic to the Olympic special forums of all the authorized websites. According to statistics of AC Nielsen, till August 17th 2008, 87% of the internet traffics during the period of Olympics were shared by the official Olympics website and authorized websites such as Sina, Sohu, Netease and Tencent. The video advertisement values of the media above increased to a large extent correspondingly.
Characteristics of the Development of New Media in Beijing Olympics
According to the summarization of the development of new media in Beijing Olympics described above, it can be seen that the new media types which could provide supports for the Olympic information communication around 2008 Beijing Olympics realized very rapid distribution and development. The CMMB, online video and HDTV listed above were all constructed with emphases as important guarantee to serve Olympics (ibid.). After five years, looking back the process of Beijing Olympics combining with the development status of these media in China at present, we can conclude characteristics in the following aspects:
The mew media construction of Beijing Olympics was dominated by administrative tasks
Before the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games had announced several times that Beijing Olympics would be the first Olympic Games to realize global receiving by digital means. According to the requirement, China must have constructed the basic network supporting new media broadcasting of Olympics, completed the network connection tests of new media terminals, and explored mature new media business modes before the opening of 2008 Olympic Games, thus the time was very pressing and the task was very burdensome.
In order to deal with the challenges above, the government fully exerted its abilities to deploy resources by administrative power, and promoted the comprehensive development of all forms of new media in China within a short period by means of administrative tasks. Take mobile multimedia for example, the administration began the construction and signal testing of newly-constructed networks one year in advance with the goals of broadcasting Olympics, publicizing Olympics and serving Olympics.
According to the data published by the State Administration of Film, Radio and Television: at the beginning of 2007, CMMB base stations were established in the 6 Olympic cities of Beijing, Qingdao, Shenyang, Shanghai, Qinhuangdao and Tianjin, as well as Shenzhen, Guangzhou, which had relatively fine basis of industrialization to undertake relative coverage and network signal experiments; on October 5th, Qingdao TV Tower successfully transmitted CMMB signals and became the first city that succeeded in the experiment among the 8 pilot cities.
On November 20th 2007, all the provincial capitals began to construct the trial network of CMMB. In June 2008, CMMB signals were transmitted in the trial networks of 37 countries throughout China. The CMMB system began trial broadcasting with TV programs, radio programs and information services of central and local levels in the first period (Jarvie, Hwang & Brennan 2008). In August 2008, CMMB totally constructed and operated 61 high power transmission points in the 37 cities including Olympic cities, municipalities, provincial capitals and cities specifically designated in the state plan, and covered an urban population of about 125 million.
According to the statistics above, strongly promoted by the dominance of administrative tasks, China completed the construction of mobile multimedia broadcasting network from zero and the development of terminal equipments and business models within a very short period. Such an unconventional new media development speed obviously exceeded the normal cycles of market development and industry self-growth.
The unconventional development speed also brought to over-optimistic judgment and estimate on the future development prospect of media operating institutions. For example, as the only mobile TV that could guarantee services before the opening of Beijing Olympics, till the end of September 2008, there were about 1.2 million CMMB terminals in China. The vice general manager of China Satellite Mobile Broadcasting Corporation, the operator of CMMB, used to state in public that the next goal for CMMB terminals was to reach 10 million in 2009 and 50 million in 2010.
However, it is worth for thought that CMMB failed to keep on with rapid increase after Olympics, and was rapidly stuck in the plight of lacking contents, unitary profit mode and weak user scale increase. For example, although CMMB operating institution estimated in 2008 that its user scale would be more than 50 million in 2010, the case is that CMMB only developed 45 million users by June 2012, among which only 21 million were paid users.
The great gaps between plans and reality fully demonstrate that: the rapid construction dominated by administration before Olympics didn’t bring long-term driving forces to the media form. Once it has lost the advantageous factors of favourable resources endowed by administrative power, and enters market operation, it will gradually lose its original driving force to go on developing because of the failure to get accustomed to the market.
Emphasis on short-term Olympic service effects
Another characteristic of the new media development in Beijing Olympic Games is the special emphasis on the short-term Olympic service effects. Investments were made to guarantee all kinds of demands of Olympics regardless of costs. Take the infrastructure construction of new media network for example: in order to fulfil the basic network technology demands and ensure the smooth communication of the games and management of Olympics, a series of efforts were made from government to industry.
In September 2007, the “Specialized Plan for Digital Olympics Construction” released by Beijing municipal government announced that in order to ensure the global-level communication of Beijing Olympics, Beijing would construct 6 major communication projects: the Olympic optical cable communication network would cover all the places related to Olympics; the communication institutions of Olympic central area provided services of sound, data, broadcasting, internet transmission and broadband; Olympic integrated digital enhanced networks; digital TV networks in sports venues, new submarine optical cable, satellite ground station and car borne satellite system; and national digital broadcasting system (Ying 2008). All the projects mentioned above were related to broadband. Based on the six major communication projects, the Chinese broadband network became an unparalleled communication platform.
Meanwhile, in order to fulfil the technical requirements of “Hi-tech Olympics, digital Beijing”, Beijing municipal government appropriated 30 billion RMB of the 180 billion city infrastructure investment for information construction, in order to ensure the whole “optical internet” to be radiated to each sports venue in central areas such as the Olympic Village, so that broadband high-speed internet services can be provided for every venue to ensure the functions of multimedia TV conferences, remote medical operations and video request, etc.
As for the individualized demands proposed by media from different countries, the communication guarantee group of Beijing Olympics also made great efforts to fulfil them. For example, the reporter of European Broadcast Union (EBU) proposed the technical demands to realize three businesses by one network cable. CNC organized all the technical elites to solve the problem by constantly constructing simulating networks.
From the examples above, we can see that serving Olympics became the most important goal and principle of new media development in Beijing Olympics. The government not only appropriated a large amount of city infrastructure construction fund to enforce the service ability of new media network, but also used administrative methods to organize the cooperation of multiple network operators, and even conducted striving for technical breakthrough with all the technical elites in order to fulfil the individualized demands of foreign media. All in all, the origin and behaviour mode absolutely neglected economic profits and spared no effort to guarantee short-term Olympic service effects.
The mode dominated by short-term service effects could rapidly elevate the development level of new media in China. However, it has many disadvantages in the long run. For example, many information projects listed above lost their values after the Olympics, and the huge resource investment didn’t get the return of sustainable value of application. This has brought to waste of resources in some degree. Meanwhile, the overemphasis on short-term service effects also brings disadvantages such as the unordered and blind brand construction.
For example, CNC became Olympic cooperation partner by winning the fierce competition before Beijing Olympics. CNC proposed the strategic plan consisting of “guarantee, development, and radiation” before Olympics, and effectively guaranteed Beijing Olympics to be the first broadband Olympics in its true sense in the history. After the opening ceremony of Olympics, the communication guarantee capabilities of CNC won great acceptance of media throughout the world.
It can be said that the brand of CNC was actively promoted by Beijing Olympics and won fine reputation. However, after the Olympics, because of the reorganization of China telecommunication operators, CNC was merged by China Unicom with government intervention, and the brand “CNC” totally disappeared. The disappearance of the “CNC” brand which was established by serving Olympics in the world range is a great pity and loss that influences the expansion of the international influence of China new media brands (Ruffolo 2012).
New media elevate their own values by Olympics
It needs time for new media to draw general attention of people, while Beijing Olympics largely shortened the time for Chinese users to accept the new media. For example, with the promotion of Olympics, the internet video of China became the mainstream rapidly in 2008. The netizens already accepted the experience of watching video online, and netizens without TV or inconvenient to watch TV would visit video websites actively.
According to statistics, the Olympics brought great rise of traffic for China video websites. According to the public data of cctv.com, nearly 142 million netizens watched the Olympics broadcasting by cctv.com and 9 commercial websites every day during the Olympics, and it was 56.13% of the total population of netizens (Xiong 2008). According to Analysis, the traffics of internet video websites with Olympic video request and live broadcasting rights increased a lot from August 8th to 24th, and reached more than twice of that in the same periods of July. The traffic internet video websites without Olympic video right was mostly the same with or lower than the same period of July.
It can be concluded from the comparison of data before and after the Olympics that although Olympics made great promotion to the user scale of internet video and brought increase to the total traffic of the internet video industry, the video websites with higher traffic were still the previous leading players of the industry. The top two video sharing websites were still Youku and Tudou, and the No. 1 of portal website video channel was still sina video.
Besides, obvious increase of traffic also occurred to see after the opening ceremony of Olympics with more than 5 million online spectators for Olympic Games every day and more than 60 million Olympic video traffics; CCTV.com with the slogan of “watch Olympics on cctv.com” became the website with the greatest increase in traffic during the period of Olympics. The traffic of cctv.com increased more than 8 times during the period of Olympics, and the daily visits of cctv.com exceeded 301 million pages, and the daily visitors of video live broadcasting was 15.96 million. According to monitoring data of third-party statistics provider Wrating, the traffic of cctv.com was at a historic peak only 10 minutes after the opening ceremony, and the peak transient value of traffic even exceeded the total sum of that of all the other portal websites.
It is undeniable that although new media can elevate their own values and level of mainstream rapidly by Olympics, the Olympic Games only lasted for 16 days. After the traffic peaks brought by Olympics, the video websites should return to normal market environment to verify whether they are successful or not. Only by constantly enforcing the cultivation of user habits to transfer newly added users into loyal users, and elevate their decision-making authority when facing with advertisers, can these websites realize better existence and development in its true sense.
Development Status of Major New Media in London Olympics
New media technology: virtual reality technology and its performance in Olympics
Besides the fierce competition of athletes, the most eye-catching topics of each Olympic Games are the opening ceremony and closing ceremony. The excellent opening and closing ceremonies are not only show-windows to demonstrate the cultural and historical treasures of the host country to the whole world, but also a proving ground of the high-tech development of the country.
The constantly accelerated maturity and commercial operations of Britain market provided sufficient technical supports for the video-audio feast (Hunter 2012). It is known that the magic visual effects in the opening ceremony of London Olympics consisted of 70,500 sets of light boards, and 370 km of cables were used to connect all the LED light boards. These light boards were especially demonstrated in the setting of the spectator stand.
There was an LED light board on the right side of each seat, which could show different colours according to the performance. With the assistance of LED lights, the spectators were no longer merely enjoyers. They also create abundant stage effects of multi-dimension and huge LCD screen together with the auditorium, so that the whole environment seemed so real in visual and audio aspects to fully show the extremely strong interaction of the virtual reality technology.
Besides, the breakthroughs in the motion sensing and interaction of virtual reality technology provided more convenient training modes for athletes. The introduction of virtual reality and simulation system effectively solved the problem of dealing with emergencies, and the construction of all kinds of virtual environments enabled athletes to undertake normal trainings within limited space.
The application of virtual reality and digital content manufacture technologies in London Olympics is a concentrated demonstration of British communication technology, which deeply shows that Olympics is always following the path of media technology evolution to update its development in the technical levels of representation, information flow mode, and communication style, etc.
New media application: social media and “Socialympics”
The large-scale application of social media has become another feature of the development of London Olympics in the field of new media. From 2008 to 2012, the most important changes in media terminal field are the “smart” function and “slim” size. Smart phones and tablet PCs represented by Apple and Samsung have been rapidly popularized throughout the world, and users can keep their “online” all day, so that barrier free “communication” anytime and anywhere has been realized. According to the president of NBC Olympics project Gary Zenkel, “Social media is an important part of how fans consume and interact during the Olympics.” Alex Huot, IOC Head of Social Media compared the Vancouver Winter Olympics with London Olympics and said, “Vancouver was just the first snowflake. This is going to be a big snowball.”
The 2012 London Olympics is called the “most sociable” Olympic Games. This is shown in the active performance of social media in Olympics. For example, Twitter established special web page on its official website and arranged employees to compile the Twitter information of Olympic athletes and their families, fans and NBC employees 20 hours every day, and then summarize them into the special web page.
This is one part of the cooperation between Twitter and NBC, as well as the first time for Twitter to be the official reporting website of large-scale event. According to public statistics, the number of releases on Olympics in twitter at the day of the opening ceremony of London Olympics exceeded the number during the whole process of Beijing Olympics. Till August 13th 2012, the number of fans of [email protected] was 1,571,482. There were more than 50 million releases about Olympics in Twitter (Debao 2013).
The reason for the name of “most sociable Olympics” is not only that it was the first time for social media platforms such as Twitter to become official cooperation platform of Olympics, but also that the audience and athletes had deepened their acceptance and approval of social media platforms with the development of media industry as a whole, so that social media was able to fully exert its communication characteristics in Olympics.
Characteristics of the Development of New Media in London Olympics
Dominated by market development
Different from the development of new media in Beijing Olympics, the major new media technologies and applications in London Olympics originated from the normal growth in the market environment. No matter the application of virtual reality technology in the opening ceremony or the great influence of social media such as Facebook, they had already been mature commercial applications in the market environment before London Olympics.
For example, according to statistics, the user number of social media Facebook and Twitter increased in geometric grading from Beijing Olympics to London Olympics (Ferrand, Chappelet & Seguin 2012). The user number of Facebook increased from 100 million in 2008 to 900 million in 2012; and the user number of Twitter increased from 6 million in 2008 to 140 million in 2012. The huge user group and market scale are basic factors for social media to occupy the dominating position in the new media application in London Olympics.
Besides, the attraction of social media to young audience was another factor that the London Organising Committee for Olympic Games paid much importance to. According to statistics of British “Daily Telegraph”, in 2012, the primary choice of British youth for recreation was browsing social websites such as Facebook and Twitter instead of watching TV.
However, as an international sports event, Olympics must realize effective and close interaction with the young generation representing new power. More than 50% of the world population is younger than 30, among which 96% have participated in social media. Only by occupying the social media can the communication platform with the young generation be obtained. Based on the reasons mentioned above, social media has become the major new media application in London Olympics.
Compared with Beijing Olympics, the application of social media in London Olympics didn’t experience more processes of network infrastructure construction and business promotion, and was a natural interconnection of mature commercial application and the Olympic communication platform (Debao 2013). The major functions of official institutions such as the Organizing Committee for Olympic Games were selection and leading, which were quite different from the mode of promoting the development of new media such as mobile multimedia broadcasting dominated by administrative tasks in Beijing Olympics.
London Olympics is a platform of media show
During the Beijing Olympics, the official institutions implemented the technology construction and business development of many new media fields within a centralized short period in order to serve Olympics. Beijing Olympics became an important driving force source of the new media development in China. However, looking back the preparation process of London Olympics, no abundant temporary constructions on media technology and network were conducted by British official institutions.
No matter the first utilization of 3D TV in the broadcasting of London Olympics or the excellent performance of virtual reality technique in the opening ceremony were centralized shows of the new media development of Britain on the platform of Olympics. The Olympic Organizing Committee only led and selected the relatively mature new media forms and applications according to the demands of Olympic communication to serve the communication of Olympics (Hunter 2012).
In my opinion, the origins of the differences are the different realizations and orientations of Olympics of the two host countries. It was the first time for China to host Olympic Games, so that it considered Beijing Olympics as an important political task, and thought that the level of Olympics was related to the country image and position of China in the international community.
Therefore, it spared no effort to ensure the investment of resources by administrative measures and implemented intensive constructions within a short period, so that new media increased explosively in China within a short period before Beijing Olympics. However, as a country that hosted Olympics for many times, although Britain attached much importance to the preparation of Olympics, it would not conduct customized technology research and development for serving Olympics (ibid.). Thus, as for new media, London Olympics is actually a platform for the centralized show of mature new media in different forms.
The development of new media before and after Olympics was relatively consistent
Since relatively mature new media forms were applied in London Olympics, the author hasn’t found the phenomenon of inconsistent development or rapid decline of some new media forms that happened after the closing of Beijing Olympics in China in the follow-up research for nearly one year after the closing of London Olympic Games.
The new media industry of Britain showed a steady trend of development as a whole. For example, the market share of social media such as Facebook is still high after London Olympics. Although the 3D TV terminal market is now cooled down to some extent, 3D TV has already been a new trend for the development of TV media after HDTV, and is developing rapidly in countries including Britain and China.
There are mainly three reasons for this phenomenon: first, as is mentioned above, few new media forms were specially constructed to serve London Olympics within a short period, so that the problem of overhasty development with too much emphasis on short-term effects in the preparation of Beijing Olympics was avoided (Scotton & Hachten 2010); second, after four years of development, the globalization of new media increased to a large extent throughout the world, and the “global village” predicted by McLuhan has already been basically formed.
This has determined that the general development levels of new media industry in relatively developed countries have been increasingly similar. Finally, compared with the new media industry of China, the British new media industry is more market-oriented with more space for free development. Whether a new media technology or application is beneficial is mainly judged by the results of market and commercial operations with little influence of political factors. The relatively tolerant media development environment is beneficial to the smooth development of new media in Britain to a large extent.
“Media is the extension of man.” The viewpoint proposed by McLuhan has been fully realized in the new media era. It can be seen from this research that during the process of large-scale content resource integration represented by Olympics, the emergence and popularization of all kinds of new media forms have realized the “time shift” and “location shift” of content contact. By diverse information communication channels, Olympic audience can break through the traditional limits of time and space, and largely elevate their abilities of active choice and contact. Thus, the nature of this research is a combined research aiming at the diverse communication channels and large-scale content resources.
Meanwhile, this paper has selected Beijing Olympics and London Olympics, two successive cases with distinct characteristics as the target of comparative research for two reasons. First, the 2008 Beijing Olympics is regarded as the first comprehensive and direct participation of new media forms in Olympic communication, and was a key opportunity for the development of new media industry of China. Before and after Beijing Olympics, many kinds of new media forms developed a lot within a short period with driving forces from different aspects.
Compared with the process of global interaction of Olympics and media industry, this mode has something special, and thus has high value for research. Second, compared with Beijing Olympics, the new media industry throughout the world in London Olympics was more mature, and the total sports culture market, nature of media industry and driving forces of Britain were different from those of China. The purpose of the comparative of the two Olympic Games is to think about the influences of different national conditions and market environments on the development of new media industry. With this research outline, the following three conclusions of the research are drawn:
The combination of new media and Olympics is the combination of diverse channels and large-scale contents
According to the paper, there are three core elements in the analysis of the application and development of new media in Olympics. First, large-scale Olympic contents: no matter Beijing Olympics or London Olympics, thousands of media content resources are the basis of the overall prosperity of multiple media forms; second, diverse media channels: faced with the huge content system and intensive communication period, the diverse media forms brought by new media technology have become important outlets for the large-scale Olympic contents, and expanded the Olympic information communication channels among which TV used to be the core, and; finally, large-scale Olympic demands: demands represent market, and Olympic Games activate the large-scale Olympic market demands, which bring about the demands of individualization that stimulate the formation and development of diverse media channels.
Large-scale Olympic contents were transmitted by diverse media channels, which then expand the system of large-scale Olympic contents the development of all kinds of derivative contents. The combination of contents and channels has effectively fulfilled the large-scale Olympic market demands, which have the effects of promotion and stimulation for the formation of diverse media channels.
It can be seen that the application of new media in Olympics is a successful example of the combination of contents and channels, and the content products generated by Olympic content resources and the diverse channels brought by new media realized preliminary integration taking the opportunity of Olympics, and has laid the foundation for the organic combination of digital content industry and new media industry in the future. The development of new media in Olympics has again verified the important functions of high-quality contents on the development of new media industry, and enabled the industry and academic circle to fully understand the essentiality of the connection of new media industry and digital content industry.
The development of new media in Olympics reflects macro environments of different countries
The media industry is a sensor of the macro society. The summarization and comparison of the development of new media industry in the two Olympics in this paper also reflect the differences of macro environment of China and Britain in the aspects of national strategy and international prestige.
As is mentioned above, the new media industry of China obtained predominant development within a short time driven by administrative powers in Beijing Olympics, while the application and development of new media in London Olympics mainly derived from the market. It is believed in this paper that the considerations on the reasons of these differences should not merely be limited to the development basis of media industry itself and the maturity of the media market, and the differences of the two countries in the macro aspects such as economy, politics and general development stage.
China is the largest developing country in the world. Although its economic scale and international prestige has been increasing rapidly these years, it still has relatively large gaps with the developed countries in the mainstream international system in the aspects of economic basis, adoption of the market principle, and international influence. Therefore, as for China, Olympics had the task of elevating the image and international influence of the country. It can be seen from the process of the preparation of Beijing Olympics that China government inclined to measure the effects of Beijing Olympics from the perspective of politics.
Therefore, it is not strange to dominate resource allocation of resources and promote the development of new media used for Olympic communication. On the other hand, since Britain has highly adopted the market principle and hosted Olympics for several times, it no longer needs to verify itself by London Olympics. For Britain, the Olympics were more like a grand party. Without the burden of politics, market naturally became the major driving force for the application and development of new media in Olympics.
Thus, it can be seen from the analysis on the application and development of new media in the two Olympics that the development of new media industry can reflect the development status of different countries in the deep level. It is believed in this paper that the research on the development of new media industry in the future should be extended to the macro level of national development, and the development path of the media industry should be perceived from the level of national strategy, so that the development trend of the macro strategy of the country can be reflected from the aspect of industry development.
The development of media industry decides the scale of sports market
From “TV Olympics” to “Omni Media Olympics”, the application and transition of media in Olympics have reflected the combination and deepening of the relationships between the media industry and sports industry.
The rapid updates of miscellaneous media forms expand the dimensions of sports marketing
The integration of media and the sports industry has increased the population participating in sports radically. The huge sports population constitutes the basis of sports market. It is shown that more than 3.2 billion of the 3.5 billion TV audiences watched the broadcasting of Olympic Games by TV during the Atlanta Olympic Games.
From the perspective of marketing, “participation” means the possibility of consumption in the future with no fixed time limit. While increasing the population participating in sports, the media has also stimulated the sports purchasing power and the purchasing desire of users by means of matches and advertisements, so that the sports consumer behaviour can be influenced comprehensively. With the increase of sports consumption demands, the general scale of global sports industry is constantly expanding.
Media has created a mature profit mode for sports industry
It can be seen from the broadcasting right of Olympics that the media broadcasting right of sports has become an important intellectual property right that is universally acknowledged throughout the world. The IOC has made close and detailed specifications for the TV broadcasting right of games. For examples, as for the media broadcasting right of the same game, different rights can be divided according to the differences of communication media and communication range: the authorizations of copyright in TV communication are always divided into wireless TV broadcasting right, cable TV broadcasting right, and satellite TV broadcasting right.
As for the authorization range of TV copyright, the TV broadcasting rights are divided into regional copyright, national copyright, continental copyright and global copyright. The copyright authorizations are also divided into live broadcasting copyright and delayed record copyright. With the constant application of new media in Olympic information communication, the media broadcasting rights will be further divided according to the different media platforms. In 2008, CCTV bought the TV broadcasting right in the region of China, and then purchased the online broadcasting right from IOC independently.
The further division of media broadcasting rights has formed a perfect product line of Olympic Games broadcasting rights, which can not only enable the broadcasting party to choose applicable Olympic communication methods according to their respective regional and technical demands, but also realize multiple sales of the same content according to different communication methods, regional ranges and media types, so that the profits of the Olympic contents can be maximized. Therefore, the media broadcasting right of sports has already become one of the basic income sources that maintains the development of competitive sports, and is the basis for the constant enlargement of the development scale of current sports industry.
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