London 2012 Olympics prompts six million to use the Red Button for the first time

Millions of viewers experiment with Twitter, "dual-screening" and other new ways of watching TV during the Games


The London 2012 Olympics prompted millions across the country to embrace technology and social media as a way of enhancing their viewing experience of the Games, according to research results released to today.


6.6 million UK adults used the BBC’s Red Button services for the very first time, tuning into one or more of the 24 dedicated streams which delivered live coverage of every sport, while a total of 8.8 million used their TVs, computers or mobile devices to view on-demand footage, including streaming via the BBC Olympics website.

2.7 million made an initial foray into “dual-screening” – watching TV whilst using a mobile device (such as a phone, tablet or laptop) to share the experience online via sites such as Twitter. Meanwhile, a total of 6.4 million adults used social media to get Olympics updates, and 7.2 million used a mobile phone or tablet to access video or text coverage of the Games.

Scott Thompson, Digital Research Manager at Starcom MediaVest Group, which carried out the survey of 1,010 UK adults, said: “The BBC’s broad coverage of the Games has clearly introduced new media technologies and behaviours to new audiences.

“The huge volume of coverage posed a new challenge for many consumers – how to navigate dozens of channels and thousands of hours of TV footage to find the events they wanted to watch. For many, TV’s red button provided the solution and – even though it has been around for over a decade – gave 6.6 million viewers their first real reason to experiment with it.”

Thompson said many viewers who tried dual-screening and Red Button and online services for the first time during the Olympics were likely to continue using them in the future.


“Once people have cleared the initial hurdle of experimenting with new technologies or behaviours, the barrier to repeating them is lowered as they have a clearer understanding of the benefits, and the confidence to use them again,” he said. “We expect to see more evidence of these sorts of behaviours in the future.”