Tweeting the Olympics


Collaborative project with the BBC World Service, the New Political Communication Unit (Royal Holloway, University of London), and the ESRC’s Centre for Research on Socio Cultural Change (CRESC). 

The aim of the project was to assess whether and how the BBC World Service engaged audiences via Twitter and fostered intercultural dialogue (or, in the BBC’s terms, a ‘global conversation’). We analysed how Arabic, Russian, Persian and English-speaking audiences responded to the Olympics and the BBC’s coverage of it. Research mixed Twitter analytics, news analysis, interviews, and ethnography. 

The project's findings and analysis were published in a special issue of Participations: International Journal of Audience Research.


Dennis, J. Gillespie, M. and O’Loughlin, B. (2015). Tweeting the Olympics: Towards a Methodological Framework for Big Data Analysis of Audience Engagement During Global Media Events. Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, 12(1), 438-469. 

Aslan, B. Dennis, J. and O’Loughlin, B. (2015). Balding Goes Trolling? Cross-Media Amplification of Controversy at the 2012 Olympics. Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, 12(1), 577-607.

Selected talks

Aslan, B. Aslanyan, A. Dennis, J. Gillespie, M. O'Loughlin, B. Shreim, N. and Voss, A. (2013). Tweeting the Olympics: An OU-BBC Partnership. Paper presented at the BBC Audience Research Seminar, London, March 22.

Gillespie, M. Procter, R. Aslan, B. Dennis, J. Schreim, N. and Targhi, M. (2012). The Olympic Games 2012, the BBC World Service & Twitter. Paper presented at the Conference of International Broadcasters' Audience Research Services Annual Conference, Salford, November 11-14.