USOC Follows NBC’s Lead In Launching New Website
By Carolyn Braff
The Olympic spirit has officially reached the Internet as the United States Olympic Committee launched Teamusa.org, a new Web site that incorporates athlete blogs, social networking tools, streaming video and highlights from the full USOC Olympic archive. Following the lead of broadcast partner NBC’s online portal, the new URL is designed to draw younger viewers into a year-round Olympic community.
“With today’s youth, if they want to see video, they’re going to turn to the web,” says Trevor Miller, USOC application development director. “Having that capability and showing our product and all the archives we have is going to reach out to that younger generation.”
Teamusa.org will significantly modernize the look of the USOC’s current URL, usolympicteam.com. The site features the USOC’s first complex video portal, complete with a library of highlights dating back to the 1904 Games.
“We are exposing the vast Olympic archive for the first time on the Web,” explains John Pierce, USOC managing director for brand management. “When the site launches, you’ll see what we’ve dubbed the top 25 U.S. Olympic moments, which ranges from Dick Fosbury in 1968 showing his famous Fosbury flop to Michael Phelps at the 2004 Olympic Games.”
The USOC is the licensor of all Olympic video footage, so opening the archive was not an issue of rights, but rather of finding a relevant way to display the content. To create a video player that would serve that purpose, the USOC turned to The FeedRoom, a web video distribution company based in New York. The FeedRoom then worked alongside Sports Technologies Inc., the company that the USOC chose to design its site, to integrate the player into the new Teamusa.org.
“We have a close relationship with NBC so we knew of STI through NBC and we were impressed with what they had done with NBCOlympics.com,” Pierce says. “When we met with them, we felt like they really understood what we were trying to do in aggregating content from different Olympic sports.”
STI also created Sports Illustrated’s FanNation sports community, and the USOC was eager to capitalize on STI’s experience in building online communities.
Because NBC owns the rights to all broadband content during the Games, video produced on Teamusa.org for the next few months will be shoulder programming – behind the scenes interviews with athletes and coaches, tours through non-accredited areas and a daily video blog from USOC CEO Jim Scherr. The site does have the rights to show 60-second highlights from the Olympic trials, so those will be streamed, but Pierce is not particularly worried about his traffic numbers.
“All of these sites are complementary,” Pierce explains. “During the games, the role of Teamusa.org is to drive visitors to NBCOlympics.com to experience the programming that they have there. The more successful that NBCOlympics.com is, the more successful the USOC is.”
AT&T will host Teamusa.org on its own servers and all video production will be done by third party hires.
Teamusa.org will also serve as a portal for the official website of 26 national governing bodies. Nineteen other NGBs have existing media content contracts for their official sites, so the USOC will build an unofficial site for each of those. The site will also work in concert with the USOC’s to-be-announced TV network in driving traffic across platforms throughout the year.
“The Tag line here is amazing awaits,” Pierce says. “Once these Games are over, amazing things await those athletes that are trying to qualify for the 2010 games in Vancouver and the 2012 games in London.”