More online, more on mobile: advertising executive to IOC

More online, more on mobile: advertising executive to IOC

Published Aug. 1, 2015 11:44 p.m. ET

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) A leading advertising executive told the IOC on Sunday that the Olympic body needs to stay relevant with the younger generation and concentrate more of its content on the Internet and via mobile devices.

And the once futuristic-sounding technology of virtual reality will likely be part of the planning.

Martin Sorrell, chief executive officer of advertising agency WPP, said the International Olympic Committee was in a unique position because its biggest asset was its live content.

''Live sports coverage is the last bastion of high-value traditional programming,'' Sorrell said, adding that most consumers want to watch video when and where they choose.


''But they can't do that with live sports. Its power is its immediacy.''

Sorrell also told the IOC that it needs to stay current by increasing its on-demand content and social media.

''It's critical to find your voice more than just 17 days every two years,'' Sorrell said, referring to the rotation of Summer and Winter Games. ''The time is now to engage and inspire, and the Olympic Channel's time has come.''

Last year, the IOC backed the launch of a digital channel to promote Olympic sports between the games and engage with young viewers. The channel will feature material from the IOC's archives, transmit some international sports competitions and offer a promotional platform for bid cities.

Sorrell said that while the new channel was a good idea, its content was crucial to its success.

''The IOC needs to create a range of content that is more than archive and TV footage,'' he said. ''You have the ultimate story platforms - tell stories about the athletes, their families, friends and dreams.''

And he stressed that most of the IOC's efforts should be via mobile platforms.

''Mobile is a critical factor to engage the world,'' he said. ''If the IOC and media partners do not seize the opportunity, it risks losing an entire generation of new audiences.''

Sorrell said he expected the next big communication tool would be virtual reality.

''Digital leaders believe that virtual reality could be the next big thing,'' he said. ''It allows people from remote locations ... to experience a 360-degree video and sound of a distant event as if I was present there in person, virtually.''

He said the technology could become real time in the future.

''You could put on a pair of goggles as though you were an athlete in the stadium, bringing people to the athletes,'' he said.

Later Sunday, Yiannis Exarchos, chief executive officer of Olympic Broadcasting Services, said virtual reality could be in the Olympic Channel's plans for next year's games in Rio de Janeiro.

''It raised a few eyebrows,'' said Exarchos, who gave a demonstration of how the digital channel's mobile app would operate. ''But it's a very important part of the broadcast of the future.''