Innovation, engagement and digital transformation: Why Tokyo 2020 marked a new era for the Olympic Games

With record digital views and innovative engagement initiatives, Tokyo 2020 marked the biggest step yet in the digital transformation of the Olympic Games.

IOC Marketing Report for Tokyo 2020

For all details about the broadcasting, partnership, licensing and branding efforts behind the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, read our Tokyo 2020 Marketing Report available here.

Fans around the world were able to access more content on more screens and platforms than ever before, with the IOC and its rights-holding broadcasters responding to the changing media landscape to help make these the first “streaming Games”.

In total, there was a huge 74 per cent upsurge in the number of digital viewers compared with the Olympic Games Rio 2016, and a 139 per cent increase in the number of video views on digital platforms, making Tokyo 2020 by far the most watched Olympic Games ever on digital platforms.

With record engagement also seen on web and social media platforms, Tokyo 2020 represented a landmark moment in the IOC’s efforts to transform the Olympic Games for the digital era. Major achievements from the Games included:

  • Global audience of 3.05 billion people
  • 28 billion digital video views
  • 23 billion hours consumed across TV and digital
  • 74% increase in digital viewers compared with Rio 2016
  • 139% increase in digital video views compared with Rio 2016
  • 10,200 hours of content produced by Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS)
  • 44% more content produced than for Rio 2016
  • 196 million unique users on the Olympics web and app
  • 3.4 times more people reached through web and app compared with Rio 2016
  • 6.1 billion digital engagements on Olympics social media channels

The unprecedented results of Tokyo 2020 can be attributed to the development of the IOC’s digital strategy – a key initiative from Olympic Agenda 2020, which has seen the IOC work towards creating a closer connection with people around the world through digital platforms, as it aims to engage fans and attract new followers not only during, but also between each edition of the Olympic Games.

The evolution of the IOC’s digital strategy continued in 2021 following the adoption of Olympic Agenda 2020+5 – the organisation’s latest strategic roadmap – in which recommendation 8 states: “Grow digital engagement with people”.

Coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant no overseas spectators could attend the Games, this led to the creation of a variety of digital engagement initiatives for Tokyo 2020, drawing on new technologies and digital innovations to enable more sports fans than ever to follow and engage with the Olympic action.

These included:

  • The Fan Video Wall, featuring user-generated video clips from fans around the world and presented on big screens inside the Olympic venues.
  • Virtual Cheers, which gave fans the opportunity to show their support for athletes in real-time by clicking a cheer button while watching Games coverage. In total, more than 250 million cheers were registered.
  • The Tokyo 2020 FanZone – an interactive gamification experience on the official website and mobile app, which featured a range of games and challenges.
  • Dedicated Games content hubs across Taobao, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook to allow fans to engage with the latest content from the ground in Tokyo.

The IOC also worked with several Worldwide Olympic Partners to co-create engagement initiatives for Tokyo 2020, further helping to drive excitement among fans throughout the world.

Together, all of these initiatives helped make Tokyo 2020 the most engaged and digitally-enabled Games ever.

For more information, read the IOC Marketing Report for Tokyo 2020.

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