The Olympics are over but I still wanted to call out a bright moment in the coverage of this years games. I know NBC has been getting a lot of somewhat well deserved flak from the interwebs about their delayed coverage. As well as their unwillingness to let anyone view the games without having to purchase a cable package. I won't go on a tirade about how I believe the Olympic games should be free to everyone around the world to view in real time or playback. It's the one event that the entire world participates in and nothing at the moment does a better job of connecting us with those around the globe than experiencing a Olympic event in real time and cheering for your country. It's glorious. It's inspiring. It should be free to everyone everywhere. I digress. That's all I'm going to say about that... I think.
Sure most Americans likely viewed the Olympics on their TV's at home or at work. But I would like to think that there was a growing need for online content for this Olympics more so than any other. I for one am one of those wierdos who doesn't own a TV and does all my viewing through my computer, ipad, iphone. I find it nice not having the TV as the center of attention when I'm home. But that's besides the point. The point being that I, like many other's I'm sure, had a hard time getting good content about the Olympics onllne. It seemed NBC had everything on lock down. And yes NBC did have an app as well as an online portal to view the Olympics on, but it was borderline useless unless you had a cable TV subscription. Which I do not. So on ward I look. I see that there is an official Olympics app. Download. Open. Meh... this is a glorified excel spreadsheet with a medal count and icons with every sport in the games where it would tell me when a specific event was starting. I guess this is helpful... but I want to read about who won events in detail. I want to hear how Michael Phelps barely edged out Locke to win his 19th gold medal. I want to see action shots of our Olympic hero's as well as sad shots of those that just missed thier dream. Where was this!? Where is the content? Maybe ESPN? They have a great video app. I quickly opened the app in excitment that I may have found the loop hole around NBC... aaaannnd disappointment. A few vebal recaps on our dominate Basketball team. Nothing worth getting excited about. So determined, I looked onward. I opened that app store again to hopefully find a BBC app or an app that links to Jamaica or something where content is not on lock down from our NBC overlords.
Behold. Sports Illustrated comes through! Like He-Man riding into battle on his Battle Cat, Sport Illustrated took a great opportunity as a leader in sports content and said "Here's how we would cover the Olympics!" Granted there are some short comings with their App. The biggest being that it's only an App. Meaning there is no web based portal for your computer to reach this content (I believe). But setting that aside this app is glorious Olympic coverage porn. First off the app is free (hark back to my first paragraph as to why this makes me happy). Secondly they currated the content in daily downloadable magazines. Let me segway and say that the optimal experience for this is on the iPad 3 (retina display). Each issue corresponds to a day of the Olympics. Inside each issue are glorous actions photos of your Olympic heros. There photos are almost better than footage. They sometimes capture more. The resolve in Usane Bolts eyes as he runs to win the 200meter race. The underwater screams as Phelps lunges to touch the wall to edge out his teammate and win gold. You really see what makes these guys tick at the moment they are giving it all. Each issue gives you about 20 or so of these photos. Just enough to sink your teeth into, but not so much that you are overwhelmed. ESPN didn't stop there. They knew you wanted more... it's the Olympics for heavens sake. Every other issue they did a composite photo. Where they picked an arena or venue at the games and took over 300+ high res photos and composited them into a super high res image. This image loads on your iPad and your able to pinch and zoom into incredible detailed shots of people in the stands and even Athletes in mid stride. You can see nuances like the Olympic staff not looking seemly bored after seeing 100 different swim meets or even that ridiculous American tourist who is in mid explanation of what the butterfly stroke is while his wife looks on unimpressed. It's amazing technology and somehow I end up spending 5 or more mins on those composite photos lost in the people watching. It's like I'm there in London.
It doesn't stop there. Sports Illustrated knows a little something about real time content too. They have pages that take advantage of your internet connection and load up up to date Olympic Medal counts as well as the TV schedule if you so disire. But the gem of this feature was the blog of one of the journalist on site. His updates and quibs on the local London papers were amazing too see and read. If you like me you love british snobery and the headlines of their local news is a prime example of that. One headline stated "Historic bronze for our brilliant gymnasts but please, can we just have one gold. Any sport. We're not bothered. As Soon as possible. Please." Even in victory the British see distaster. It's good stuff. The blog also had nice indepth write up's on the graffiti artwork around the London games as well as highlist of the different arenas and more. It was great reading as it felt like I was getting something that NBC would never have covered. But don't worry Sports Illustrated knows we love our biops on our American Olympians. We want to hear their stories of downfall and rising back again against all odds. And they delivered. Each issue had a 5 or 6 page write up about on of our favorite Olympians. I didn't get a chance to read them all. But the few I did were well done. Lacking in the camp that you get with the TV versions...more true to the athlete at hand.
Each daily magazine ends with a video where Sports Illustrated looks ahead to the next day as they talk candidly about who we expect to medal in the big events. It's a nice touch to the end of the magazine as it give you something to look forward to the next day when you open the app and see the next issue available to download and dive into their amazing photos and great story telling. The Olympics are over, but for some reason I don't want to delete my Sports Illustrated app. I feel like I missed some content in each issue and one night before bed I'm going to go back and read those aritcles I didn't get to. I'd almost wish Sports Illustrated did weekly issues after the Olympics that did follow ups on our favorite stars. Maybe even spotlights on the next batch of upcoming Olmpians who will go to Rio to compete in 2016. I'd keep reading. I've been converted to a loyalist. Regardless of wheather or not this app continues to provide content. I know I'll be looking for it in 2016 again, because no doubt NBC will screw us all again by locking down everything unless you pay for it somehow.