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The Hub is the social media site started by the IOC to get fans and athletes interacting before and during the Summer Olympics.

I may be in the minority, but when the Summer Olympics roll around every four years – I geek out. The competition, the stories of the underdogs, seeing people that are the best in the world at what they do: I love it. The games begin in 99 days in London, but the hype has already begun, not just on this blog but from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as well. Yesterday, the committee launched a site called The Hub.

The Hub is a social media portal for fans to interface with their favorite athletes. Many of the competitors don’t have any kind of online, social presence and this hub is a way for the athletes to generate interaction and support before the London Games start.


For example, through social media, an athlete from a small country in a minor event might have a better chance of having her story of triumph of how she made it to the Olympics go viral. At least that’s what I’m hoping will happen, because as I stated before and can’t state enough: I’m a sucker for all underdogs.

The site will interact with Facebook and Twitter so that fans will be able to search for Olympic athletes’ profiles. Not only will current athletes populate The Hub’s searchable database, but past athletes’ profiles will be indexed as well. Developers of the site are hoping that the increase in athletes’ social statuses leading up to and throughout the games will increase the number of live viewers.

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Additionally, fans can log into the site and create a profile to make a game out of following athletes. The more athletes users follow the more points they will get, which can be used to unlock bonus features on the site for additional content. Bonus content includes videos with tips from past Olympians (like Russian gymnast Nadia Comaneci and American swimmer Mark Spitz), virtual medals, and even some tangible prizes that have yet to be announced.

Aside from the social aspect, The Hub will also have real-time updates from events and live-text chats. The IOC declared that it wanted to make this the first social media Olympics. Over 1,000 athletes have already signed up to help with the service.

The IOC is hoping fans engage athletes before the games to learn more about not just their background but their warm up routines and training regimens. Although, I’m sure athlete usage will be monitored by coaches and trainers to prohibit tweeting from getting in the way of their preparation. Who knows, we may see an influx of botched Olympic performances this year due to social media sabotage.

And for another first: this is the first year that all of the Olympic events will be streamed live online. During the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, NBC had stated that primetime viewers were much more important to the company than online viewers and it had no intention of streaming the games online. NBC is the official network of the Olympics and has exclusive rights to film and broadcast all Olympic events, but the contract only runs through the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The network only put big time events online after they had aired on TV. In fact, during the 2010 Winter Olympics, the only events streamed live online were hockey and curling. Earlier this week however, the company did a 180 and announced that it would stream all 32 sports live at The caveat is that NBC won’t be archiving the streams, so you can watch live on the Internet or on TV, or you can wait.

If you want to read more about streaming live online, check out YouTube’s latest announcement that will offer pay-per-view options to publishers.