A good game plan is essential, but you need practice, teamwork, and timing to get to the winner’s podium. The sports experts serving on the International Olympic Committee Executive Board are putting their expertise to work at a three day meeting starting today in Rio de Janeiro. Their goal is to craft achievable action plans that will promote sports and the Olympic movement around the world – a vision branded as “Agenda 2020.”
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach opened the meeting on a positive note. His favorite word of the day is “optimistic.” Steadily increasing revenues for sports broadcasting rights and record valuations for professional sports franchises are giving this optimistic outlook a boost.
At the same time, recent decisions by Guadalajara and Edmonton to withdraw plans for hosting large international sports events are a reminder that budgets are limited and the expectations for excellence in sports business require significant expenditures.
The optimists like IOC President Thomas Bach would like to reinforce strengths that have vaulted sports business forward.
- Long term funding commitments for broadcast rights and large sponsorship deals. Last year, NBC Universal dedicated nearly $8 billion in payments to secure broadcast rights for the Olympic Games from 2022 to 2032 in the USA. Broadcasters from China, Canada, and most other countries followed with comparable deals. The market rate for Olympic TOP sponsorships has doubled from $100 million for a Winter Games + Summer Games package to $200 million.
- New sources of revenues to fund future growth. The IOC is launching a new digital television channel. This could become a foundation for substantially higher sponsorship revenues and has already earned a large incremental investment pledged by the Russian Olympic Committee. Expanded licensing programs are adding more revenue potential.
- Growth of large online communities of sports supporters. The number of viewers registered for the IOC YouTube Channel has passed the 1 million mark. The number of Facebook followers has passed the 10 million mark. These are significant assets to promote sports and Olympic goals during the years in between Olympic Games.
- Increasing professionalism in sports business management. Yesterday, the new Association of Sports Institutes in Asia was launched in Tokyo. In Lausanne, Switzerland, SportAccord is planning an online academy to make professional training for sports management more accessible around the world.
- Growth in numbers of experienced sports event volunteers. For a century, most sports event volunteers were recruited in nearby communities and did not share their experience and talents outside their home area. The global recruiting strategy initiated by Rio 2016 attracted over a quarter million applicants. Nearly half are from Russia, China and the United Kingdom with relevant Olympic volunteer credentials.
But no team has the wind at its back all the time. As international sports events grow in size, frequency, and complexity, the number of communities that have all the resources to present these events gets smaller. Smaller metropolitan areas like Guadalajara and Edmonton may not even try to compete.