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London Olympics 2012: The greatest show on earth set to begin, digitally

According to many, this year's London Olympics will be a digital event in every sense, making full use of PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, as well as gaming consoles, to provide viewers with a number of viewing, sharing and other engaging options to enjoy the greatest show on the earth. With the Games due to begin on July 27, we have decided to share with you some key information regarding live streaming, websites, apps and other add-ons that will help you get a 'digital dose' of the Games.

Watching Games online

Viewers in India can watch live streaming of London Olympics on the official Olympic channel on video-sharing site YouTube– an initiative by the International Olympics Committee (IOC). The live streaming of the Games will begin in 64 territories (including India) on July 27, but if you want to start right now, you can watch the video clips from previous Games.

If you are still wondering how it is possible to watch all the events on a single YouTube channel, just relax. The site provides a list of sports from which viewers can select the one they want to watch. The site, by default, suggests videos of most popular sports in that country (hockey, in our case). But if you want to watch other disciplines (say, equestrian), you can still do that by selecting that particular sport from the dropdown list. You can also view a list of current and upcoming events to plan ahead.

Also, we are guessing that once an event is over, that particular video will still be available for viewing throughout the Games. So that if something interesting takes place in a heat or a final, you can watch it as many times as you want (but remember, this is just a guess).

While YouTube is the only place where you can get the live feeds officially (in India), there is the option to hide your IP address with the help of IP hiding software and watch the Games on international sites. You can try it if you are unable to view the content on those sites just because you are accessing it from another country.

Apart from live streaming, you can also get schedules, news, instant updates and photos on the official Olympic site and various other sites like Yahoo News, BBC, Times of India, Hindustan Times and ESPN STAR Sports. All of them have launched dedicated sections for Olympic coverage.

Cool apps to keep you tuned

If you want to get the latest news, results, live updates, medal tally, schedule, athlete profiles and more, all on your mobile, just download the Official London 2012 Results App. Users can also follow specific countries and receive news and updates tailored for them. The app will cover all the 36 disciplines and all the events under them. So check out the key features here:

Live results and day-by-day schedules: Users can view results in real time and share those. You can also get live updates in the form of news, photos and social commentary. Plus, users can view day-by-day schedules for all the events taking place.

Profiles: Here, you can find all information about the participants and their current Olympic standings.

Medals: One can view the medal count in real time – by country, individual and discipline.

Users can also choose to follow any participating country (such as India) and receive news and updates tailored only for them. You can download the app free of cost from Google Play store and the iTunes app store.

But that is not all. Quite a few broadcasters have launched tailor-made apps for the Games, such as ESPN Star Sports' My Country, My Cheer Facebook app, and BBC & NBC's android and iOS apps. Sponsors like Panasonic (digital face-painting app), Samsung (Take Part 2012) and Coke (Coca-Cola My Beat Maker) have also launched their respective apps as part of their marketing efforts.

In addition, you can find a number of free and paid game apps like Finger Olympic (iOS), London 2012 – Official Game (Android and iOS), London 2012 Game (iOS), etc., that range from simple puzzle games to action games to trivia (on the games) and more.

'Social' Games all the way

In the last Winter Olympics held in Canada in 2010, social media was extensively leveraged for fan-athlete interaction, and we can expect the same (and more) this time around. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stated that the 2012 Games will be the most 'tech-savvy Olympics ever' and has already launched The Olympic Athletes' Hub that will showcase social media feeds of Olympic athletes by posting content directly from their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The 'Hub' will also enable fans to chat with their favourite sports persons and will feature all Games updates on Facebook and Twitter. Users can simply type in the name, sport/discipline/event or team to find and follow the official social media sites of their favourite Olympic stars. You can also earn rewards by following them and participating in the community. Last we checked, the 'most followed' athlete was US basketball player Lebron James with more than 17 million fans. Next came fellow-basketball player Kobe Bryant and tennis ace Roger Federer.

The hub itself has more than 3 million subscribers, as of now.

Key social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr will also play a big part in this Olympics. Financial Times has already come up with a dedicated Twitter channel for the Games while other publications and technology companies like Samsung are using their own Twitter channels to provide news and updates.

But social media users must not forget to use caution before pouring their hearts out. Else, one could be in big trouble. The best example is Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou, who would be no longer able to compete in the Games because of her racist Tweet.

What's playing on TV

If you are in India and watching the Games on TV, you can tune in to DD1, DD Sports, ESPN, Star Sports and ESPN HD (yes, you can get your Olympic dose in HD now). A complete list of worldwide broadcasters is provided here. As the channels will be broadcasting in India, preference might be given to those events Indians like to watch or where Indians are competing (tennis, hockey, shooting, wrestling, boxing and so on).

Also, there is some bad news for those who prefer to watch the news for latest updates instead of actively following the Games. Due to the rules set by the London organising committee, news channels can only show Olympic footage three hours after the official broadcast. However, they can make announcements without the video footage. But that's not all. Channels can't even use words like Olympics or London 2012 for Games-based shows. So don't be surprised if you see a show called Vijender ki Agni Pariksha or Bindra bana Arjun in the coming days.

Sponsors' initiatives

The official sponsors have also made it a point to leverage the 'digital' opportunity. Acer has launched a dedicated site that enables users to sing the national anthem for Indian athletes or leave messages to support them. It also showcases user-generated content and comments.

ESPN STAR Sports, the official broadcasting partner for the Games in India, has launched a Facebook app that allows users to cheer for India by leaving messages (with 120 characters limit) on a display picture of the Indian flag. The app also feature programme schedules for its TV channels.

Coke has also indulged in a number of promotional activities that include launching apps (like Coca-Cola My Beat Maker), leveraging Facebook and the Coca-Cola London 2012 Olympic Games Contest, among others. The same goes for Samsung and Panasonic.

This brings us to the end of our Olympic coverage for now, but stay tuned for more. Although we are not sure whether it will be a happy Olympics for India (we sincerely hope it is), it most definitely will be an 'appy' one.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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