The Olympics Needs a New Business Model

By Erika Malzberg August 9, 2016

Read the full article by Curt Nickisch at: hbr.org

Having a rotating host city for the Olympics is a 19th-century idea.

From car manufacturing to the Olympics, businesses are transforming — or getting left behind. It’s not enough to simply keep the status quo. For greater efficiency, better outcomes, and more positive consumer experiences, businesses across all industries are changing.

We all enjoy those universal Olympic stories of triumph over adversity, victory over defeat, and the power of never giving up. But there’s a bigger story happening here, beyond the pools, the tracks, and the balance beam. In light of tapped out Olympic host cities across the world, in light of the threat of the Zika virus and the rejection of the Boston bid to host the 2024 Summer Games…The current Olympic model just isn’t working any more.

“Recurring cost overruns and mothballed venue highlight the need for the Olympics to change its business model.”

“When Coubertin launched the Games in 1896, he could not have conceived of a world with television, the internet, and intercontinental air travel. All of these things have shrunk our world and made it so much easier to experience the Olympics, in person or in your living room. In today’s world you’d never start the Olympics the way Coubertin did in 1896. We’ve clung to that 19th-century model while the world has passed it by.”

Up until fairly recently, we were seeing this same allegiance to old models across industries, but with the advent of the Subscription Economy, we’re starting to see a shift.

It will be interesting to see how this shift is reflected in the future of the Olympics.

Interesting too is Chris Dempsey’s (a former Bain & Company consultant and a founding member of the group that defeated Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games) commentary on the IOC’s real core strength: “What the IOC does best and where it creates the most value is in creating really compelling content that people around the world want to consume.”

Olympics as a wining OTT content provider? How’s that for a new business model? We’ll just have to stay tuned for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang!

To learn more about how business models are being transformed, download The Economist Intelligence Unit Technology Report on Supply on Demand: Changing Patterns in Consumption and Delivery Models.