Whether you’re a huge sports fan, or you think a velodrome is something from Star Wars, chances are you saw the Rio Olympic Games this summer. The Games engaged millions of people from across the world, but fans had a hard time keeping up with such a constant stream of sporting action
Fortunately, Sports Illustrated came to the rescue, teaming up with Sports app GameOn to create a chatbot for Olympics fans. The Olympics bot worked with Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram and Skype, providing updates on highlights, medals and breaking news to a massive audience.
The bot sent users breaking news as well as the top-trending Sports Illustrated Olympics article on an hourly basis. Users received regular updates without having to actively request them. For those who find strength in numbers, the bot also worked with group chats on Kik, Slack and Skype, allowing updates and news to be sent to multiple people. The bot enabled people’s desire to watch and talk about sports in groups, a crowning achievement.
Patty Hirsch, Vice President and General Manager of Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Group, wants the Olympics bot to be more than just a stream of dry statistics. She told Yahoo, “So much of the pride, passion and glory of the Summer Games experience gets lost in simple scores and medal counts. Our chatbot partnership with GameOn opens up new audiences to the rich storytelling that is a hallmark of SI, without switching apps or dropping what they’re doing.”
The prestige and talent of Sports Illustrated, coupled with the technical know-how and innovation of GameOn, allowed the Olympics bot to reach a formidable audience of up to 1.3 billion sports fans across various platforms over the summer. Despite the bot’s impressive potential, Sports Illustrated didn’t push the bot to Facebook until the dying days of the 2016 Games, so users had only a narrow window of opportunity to chat with their Messenger bot. The bot was also limited in the media shown, so fans looking for videos and GIFs were left disappointed.
The Rio 2016 bot is no longer live, but nevertheless served as an encouraging sign of things to come. GameOn just collaborated with Sports Illustrated once again to create an NFL chatbot to provide analysis, updates and media to its followers. Soon, thanks to this bot, groups of friends will be able to follow sports together, even when they are miles apart.
Just don’t expect it to serve beers.
Were you one of the lucky ones who tried the Rio 2016 chatbot from Sports Illustrated this summer? Let us know what you thought of the bot in the comments below.