Olympics must embrace Gen Y tech

The Olympic movement must embrace Gen Y and learn from the likes of YouTube and American Idol or lose an audience for life says WPP CEO.

Speaking to the International Olympic Committee, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP (the worlds largest advertising company by revenue), advised global sports leaders to release their exclusivity agreements and hand them over to the current generation. Sorrell continued, saying if your audience is online you must be online, that the IOC had to let them play with the content in their own way and should learn from the entertainment industry.

“Give content to youth in formats they want – short and fast, customizable and easy to share. Don’t deny it or file it in the ‘too difficult’ folder,” said Sorrell.

Saying the brand was strong, he cited the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a predictor of future trends. Users of NBCOlympics.com watched 70 million video streams in 2008, compared with 9.1 million for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. Sorrell said the online audience was more committed, spending twice as much time viewing as their TV counterparts.

Sorrell advised sports leaders were in jeopardy of being forced to sell their broadcast rights if they failed to understand the changing markets, thereby losing audiences.

“We must ensure the iPod, iPhone generation is tuning in, not tuning out.