They're simply a straight-up TV phenomenon. The Olympics still hold the record for most-watched global television event of all time—70 percent of the world watched at least some portion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But chances are, the way you're watching the 2016 Rio Games is markedly different from the way you watched the Games when you were a kid, or even the 2012 London Games.
Time was, watching the Olympics just meant turning on your TV. The Games played in the background, and you'd just yell to anyone else in the house when your favorite athlete finally appeared. ("Hey everyone, Phelps is on!")
Not 2016. This was the year of the truly on-demand, a la carte, multi-platform, hyper-social, super-streaming Olympics. Chances are, you figured out which events you really wanted to see, and you made it happen. You gasped when Shaunae Miller dove over the finish line to win gold in the women's 400 meter race.