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The Digital Skeptic: Olympics Shines Light On Google's Doom

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- The Olympics are supposed to show the world how to be the best. This time it showed the Web how to be its best.

If you think about it, the Olympics are what the Web was supposed to be: a near-magical reweaving of otherwise meaningless rituals and ideas into a thing of unequaled value. Forget about high-end opening ceremony tickets that London paper The Telegraph says ran 4,500 pounds each. Or the intense -- and utterly fair -- debate about whether hosting the games helps or harms host cities.

The cold hard cash this event throws off is staggering in comparison with digital brands.

A five-ring value engine
Just take a look at Page 6 of the International Olympic Committee's Marketing Fact File report. For this year, the IOC claimed $3.9 billion in broadcast revenue and about $1 billion in so-called international marketing sponsorship dollars. Let's conservatively estimate another $2 billion in domestic sponsorships, tickets sales and other dollars. We don't know those figures yet, but those are in line with previous Olympics. That grosses up to a cool, round-number $7 billion or so of inbound cash.

Besides being roughly $2 billion more than what Facebook (FB) and Twitter make in a year -- combined -- the Olympics creates this avalanche of value in just two weeks! That's eight times what search engine giant Google (GOOG) takes in during the same period.

Therefore it is no accident that the basic lawlessness and disorder of online digital brands such as Google are carefully controlled. There are strict rules about what content can and cannot be distributed. And to my eye, the digital Olympics Village is strictly off-limits to the otherwise ubiquitous Google. Yes, Google-owned YouTube "powers" the software used by NBCOlympics.com to stream video. And it is easy to think that viewers choosing from hundreds of events featuring thousands of athletes would need the virtual handholding of a search brand.

But remarkably, the brand "Google" is locked out of the Olympics.

Why? You don't need it. Finding my virtual seat at these games turned out to be a snap. To get my beloved sailing feeds, all I needed to do was use my Optimum cable-TV identity to prove I was a paying customer, go to the list of online videos and scan through basketball, boxing and equestrian events to find the sailing page. Then I watched all day long. And came back daily for two weeks.

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