The XXXI Olympic Games were inaugurated on Friday August 5, 2016 in the Maracanã Stadium of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. About 11,239 competitors from 206 nations are taking part in these games, including members of the Olympic Refugee Team.
Normally, news focuses on the athletes themselves: Who will and will not be participating? How many records will be broken? What country will win the most medals? etc. At Global Voices, in addition to these questions, we ask ourselves: What about the spectators? How will the events be seen by those who don't make the trip to Rio?
In Mexico, for the first time, spectators will be able to follow the competitions that capture their interest without having to rely on the leading TV companies such as Televisa and TV Azteca, because they now have the choice of watching the events unfold for free on the internet, or via traditional (paid) cable television. This is a result of one of Mexico's business magnate, Carlos Slim, acquiring the transmission rights for the smartphone platform of his company América Móvil, and the live transmission via his internet channel, Claro Sports. The website Sopitas has this to say on the topic:
En 2013 la empresa de Carlos Slim obtuvo la licencia exclusiva del Comité Olímpico Internacional (COI) para la transmisión de las actividades en todas las plataformas de medios en América Latina…
In 2013 Carlos Slim's company obtained exclusive license from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to transmit the Games’ events on all of the media platforms in Latin America…
On Twitter, users have commented on the impact this will have on the big TV companies:
Hablemos de juegos Olimpicos solo para molestar a los de Televisa y Television Azteca
— Cesar Sahagun (@Unpayaso) 4 de agosto de 2016
Let's talk about the Olympic games just to annoy Televisa and Television Azteca.
Twitter user Disque DJ made the following commentary:
No juegos olímpicos en las 2 grandes televisoras de señal abierta!!!! ese Slim es un loquillo…
— Disque DJ (@eldisque) 3 de agosto de 2016
There are no olympic games on the two big TV stations!!! that Slim is crazy…
Meanwhile, Forbes referred to the multi-million dollar implications of Slim's strategy:
Ninguna de las dos cadenas de televisión abierta más importante del país tendrán el evento deportivo más importante del mundo: los JO. Esto significa dinero. En términos financieros se traduce en que dejarán de ingresar, al menos, unos 45 mdd (847 millones de pesos) en ventas de publicidad, de acuerdo con datos de la consultora MX Sports y valoraciones de Sportcal.
Neither of the most important broadcasters in Mexico will televise the most important sporting event in the world: the Olympic Games. This means a major loss of revenue. In financial terms it translates to a loss of at least $US 45 million (847 million pesos) in advertising, according to information from the consultant MX Sports and assessments by Sportcal.
This innovative form of transmission of the Olympics is geared towards all of the Latin American public, and not only Mexico, because Mr. Slim's company has a presence in 16 countries in Central and South America. In an interview for the online version of the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, a representative stated:
Con esta forma de transmitir un evento de relevancia mundial, por medio de smartphones, tablets y computadoras, estamos llevando la tecnología y las telecomunicaciones a un nivel superior. Nuestra apuesta es que los Juegos Olímpicos Río 2016 sean los más vistos en la historia. Lo que buscamos es expandir la forma en la que la gente pueda disfrutar de esta justa deportiva, dándoles el control a elegir lo que desean ver en la plataforma que quieran en el momento que quieran, desde donde sea que se encuentren…
By using this form of televising an event of worldwide interest, on smartphones, tablets, and computers, we are taking technology and telecommunications to the next level. Our bet is that the Olympic Games of Rio 2016 will be the most watched in history. We are looking to expand the ways in which people can enjoy this sporting event, giving them control to choose what they want to watch on the platform of their choice at a time that works for them, from wherever they are…
In these Olympics, the traditional media players could lose ground if the tycoon Carlos Slim's platform works as expected. In Mexico in particular, a few doubts have been raised after another businessman, Jorge Vergara, also turned his back on the big broadcasters to launch a platform, ChivasTV, exclusively for his football team. A few days after its debut, it experienced numerous technical difficulties, which provoked the displeasure of its viewers. As a matter of fact, netizen Nelson Ned Stark has already used Twitter to denounce the first shortcomings he has encountered with Slim's platform:
— Nelson Ned Stark (@VaroTOON) 3 de agosto de 2016
We will be keeping track of the Olympic Games, but also of the way in which spectators are following the event now that the main media companies in Mexico will only have limited coverage, and viewing options for other countries in the region have expanded.