The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics are finally here! And whether you like it or not, the Olympics will dominate your TVs, newspapers, and social media feeds. If you haven’t done your research on the Olympics yet, don’t worry because we’re here to fill you in on everything you need to know.

This summer will mark the 120th Anniversary of the original summer Olympics, which took place in Athens, Greece in 1896. In the original Olympics, only 14 countries participated in the 43 event spectacle. Since then the Olympics have grown into the most decorated sporting event of all time. This year, over 10,000 athletes from 206 nations and 42 different sport disciplines, will travel to Rio De Janeiro to compete in 306 events over the course of 19 days. For an athlete, competing in the Olympics is the most prestigious honor one can achieve, providing a chance to represent one’s country and compete against the world’s top athletes on the biggest stage. For years, the Olympics has brought the world together and from Aug 5-21, they’re back and ready to bring more action.

So what can fans expect this year?

New technology and streaming options are available making this Olympics one of the most accessible yet.  For those not willing or able to make the trek to Rio, staying connected to the games won’t be a problem thanks to the networks and digital platforms of NBC Universal. They will be streaming 6,755 hours of programming for the Games. Yes, that is equal to 356 hours of Olympic action per day (19 days)! Other networks including BRAVO, MSNBC, and USA Network will also be airing some events. If you’re looking to stream events, make sure to download the NBC Sports App to your Apple TV, Roku, Android TV or Xbox.

For marketers, the Olympics is a prime event to capitalize brands on, but there is much to know if you’re going to do it right.

First, it’s important to know the strict policies when it comes to advertising around the Olympics. In the 2012 London Olympics, sponsors, partners and supporters spent billions to have their brands connected to the Games. However, many non-sponsors ended up facing hefty fines for violating the marketing guidelines set by the Olympic Committee. Fortunately for brands this year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced changes allowing athletes and non-sponsors to benefit from ties to the Olympics, but these changes come with tight restrictions.

As part of the rule change known as “Rule 40” the IOC has approved athletes to appear in generic advertising that does not explicitly mention the games or use any Olympic intellectual property. For example, using words such as “Olympics,” “Rio,” “Games” and “Gold” in any marketing materials is off limits. In addition, the IOC required athletes and non-sponsors wanting to advertise to submit waivers, including plans for advertising and social media campaigns, six months ahead of time.  While bigger brands such as Under Armour, General Mills and Gatorade are approved and ready to take advantage, smaller companies who are growing and find difficulty looking ahead are facing problems. Meanwhile, the larger companies who have campaigns planned out for years, are getting creative to work around “Rule 40” restrictions. Hastags such as #TheBigEvent and #RoadtoReeyo are just a few marketing gimmicks non-sponsors have been using to hop restrictions. The rule change forces all brands to step up their Olympics marketing game.

This year more than ever, social media is expected to offer digital marketers with unparalleled opportunity to target viewers during the event. Twitter has recently announced itself as the official social media platform for the Olympics, and they’re going all out. The popular social networking site is revealing 207 team emojis, which can be activated by tweeting out the three letter country code hashtag, including the Refugee Olympic Team (#ROT) .


In addition, more than 50 Olympics and Sports emojis are available, as well as a Rio 2016 section in moments. The exclusive moments section will feature a live Olympics moments stream to allow fans to follow key sporting events, countries, and teams over the entirety of the Olympics.

Stay tuned for what may be the most watched Olympic Games yet.

-Becca G.