Singapore's intensive use of social media to broadcast the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games around the region last month begs the question: does it even matter anymore where sports events are held?
"The day where sports events are measured by the limited seats in the stadium is a by-gone era. A good sporting event is measured by fans across social media," Brenda Chuah, associate director at Starcom MediaVest, the ad agency officially handling the SEA Games' social media, said in emailed comments.
The SEA Games managed 44 million Youtube views, 575,000 Facebook fans -- more than the 2014 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games combined -- and 64,000 Twitter followers, according to figures from Starcom MediaVest. The games also saw a good response from an app that allowed users to choose which camera angle to use while watching events -- a departure from traditional TV's use of just one or two angles at a time, Chuah noted.
To be sure, the SEA Games is relatively small: Around 4,370 athletes competed in 36 sports, compared with more than 10,000 athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics; the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics saw the Olympics add around 2 million new Facebook fans to a total of 7.7 million. However, part of the difference in numbers could be attributed to the fact that much of Southeast Asia has limited Internet access.
So with this kind of growth across media audiences -- both social and traditional -- and a limited physical audience, does it still matter where the event is held?