With the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada just days away, the engines are unveiling their special coverage sections and search features in anticipation of spiking user searches and social conversations about the winter games and Olympians.
Here’s a preview of the features from each, along with preliminary medals for search coverage. We’ll see how it stacks up during the games.
Bing: Gold Medal
On the basis of their official partnership with NBCOlympics.com alone, Microsoft takes the top prize, but it’s also well earned because they were first to announce their 2010 Olympic search features. Powered by Microsoft Silverlight, over 400 hours of live event coverage, and 1,000 hours total available of on-demand, streaming video content in HD quality, will be available on both the official NBC Olympics site and on MSN.com
Bing.com is the official search provider for NBCOlympics.com, where Bing will provide Instant Answers for popular athletes, sporting events and medal counts, as well as updating the homepage daily with NBCOlympics.com images.
We can expect to see the same Instant Answers on Bing.com, for both events and athlete searches.
Bing Visual Search (which requires installation of Silverlight) has added two galleries, one for the 86 Olympic events, and the other, a visual search gallery of 664 Olympic athletes. Athlete data is not a complete picture by any means, but it does include more than just Team USA data, and is also sortable by a number of criteria, including age, sport, hometown/country, and will update medal counts on an individual basis. Each athlete has a link to background information, but it will be interesting to see if their profiles will include real-time news reports on any injuries or performance updates.
Bing Video Search also shows some promise, with fresh video content from NBC partners, as well as the ability to sort by other sources including Hulu and Youtube, and narrow results by length and quality:
Bing Maps has also created a new application, Winter Games, which will provide real-time information on event venues, medal counts by country, and Winter Games tweets from Vancouver, using their Twitter Maps application to filter out Olympics related commentary. Bing Maps previously announced StreetSide coverage of Vancouver and Whistler with enhanced imagery of the Olympic scenes in Canada.
Additional real-time results are also promised:
For all 86 Winter Olympic events, NBCOlympics.com on MSN will deliver the fastest and most comprehensive results anywhere online, providing LIVE results as events are happening and offering statistical summaries, group standings, elimination brackets and more.
MSN Mobile and NBC Olympics teamed up to create a variety of mobile apps and results features, more information available at: http://www.nbcolympics.com/mobile/.
Over at Google, an international landing page has been created to help users Explore the Games with Google, aka, “Google.com/Games10″, with Google Maps being a main component to track medal counts by country, and special “Street View” coverage with the use of a snowmobile to get around the games’ event venues.
Note: Snowmobile imagery of ski runs taken early-December 2009, so it’s not indicative of current snow conditions.
Real-time and Google News Search are two of the more prominent features as well. A link to the YouTube CTVOlympics channel, promises live video footage from Canada’s Olympic Network. Other suggestions include Picasa image albums and adding the Games Gadget to your iGoogle page.
Yahoo has unveiled its official sports site for the games at: http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics
Regular Yahoo search results for Olympics related queries have been enhanced with event information and schedules, athlete profiles, photos and videos blended into the results:
Yahoo! Video Search is jammed packed with 2010 Winter Olympics related (with just a couple slightly unrelated, like Super Mario Bros Olympics for Wii) videos .
Yahoo mobile results are available by going to m.yahoo.com from any mobile device.
Perhaps offering the most fan interaction of the three, Yahoo has created Fancouver, with contests and special features for both online fans and those attending the Olympic Games in Vancouver:
Beginning January 25, 2010, fans can submit their favorite winter sports photos in the “Winter Sports Moment” sweepstakes athttp://sports.yahoo.com/fancouver for a chance to win prizes ranging from digital cameras to a trip to the U.S. Freestyle Skiing Championship held at Squaw Valley, California, in March 2010. Participants are encouraged to share great hockey moments, downhill triumphs, or other thrilling winter sports photos. The sweepstakes is open to residents of the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec).
Yahoo! Turns Vancouver Into FanCouver
On opening day of the games, Yahoo! will unveil FanCouver, an entertainment center where all fans can go to enjoy:
- Live video streaming with “Fan-Cam”
- Free WiFi lounge
- Free hot cocoa bar
- Photo booth
- Pin giveaway, a tradition at the Games
- Appearances by athletes
- Games and giveways
Located in the Yaletown section of Vancouver at 1128 Hamilton Street, FanCouver will be open February 12 through February 28, from 11 a.m. PST to 11 p.m. PST daily.