Just as it’s been every four years, the world is currently glued to T.V.’s, computers, tablets and phones as all eyes keep track of the Summer Olympic games in Rio. Undoubtably, it draws one of the largest viewerships of any program internationally in existence, creating a stage for some of the largest names to be seen representing their home countries and wearing apparel from high-profile brands in activewear fashion. The reach of such a huge event isn’t lost on the available advertising it creates, something these brands are very aware of. That translates into unfathomable sponsorship opportunities, especially given the impact of social media on top of it all.
To put it in perspective, this year’s Olympics play host to 28 total sports, bringing more than 10,000 athletes with it. The previous summer games drew a total of 217 million viewers in London four years prior. Given the one-hour time difference from Eastern Standard Time, this year’s Olympics is expected to shatter that number to become the most viewed Olympic games in history.
Some sports naturally attract more viewership than others, soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming and gymnastics drawing some of the highest numbers available. This comes as no surprise considering some of the names associated with each one. Taking that into consideration, it should come as no surprise that each one enters Olympic competition representing huge names in sportswear.
Nike alone has staked exclusivity to many of the top athletes on the market. Soccer star Neymar and tennis icon Serena Williams headline the list along with runners Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Allyson Felix, Mo Farah and Dafne Schippers as well as pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie. In total, Nike brings sponsorship to 20 of the 28 total sports on display. Under Armour is certainly busy in Rio as well, staking claim to top talent such as 21-time gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps, soccer star Kelley O’Hara, sprinter Natasha Hastings and tennis star Andy Murray. Under Armour’s sponsorship comes to 225 total Olympians across 19 sports. Even if they didn’t boast as many athletes in total as Nike, the respective competitor has plenty of notoriety in Phelps’ and Murray’s names alone. Respectably, Phelp’s estimated $55 million worth coupled with Murray’s $38 million ensures their individual exposure in Rio regardless of their performance.
Over a four-year block, the U.S. Olympic Committee profits should surpass more than $20 million total. That’s surely a lot to gain, though pales in comparison to the $200 million a year the International Olympic Committee stands to make from partnered sponsorships. With so much money involved, there surely needed to be measures in place to protect the integrity of each sponsor. Hundreds of the athletes involved are sponsored by brands that don’t have an agreement in place to be shown at the Summer Olympics, presenting the necessity for Rule 40. Spanning from July 27th to August 24th, it states that no athlete is allowed to advertise or post about non-Olympic sponsors during Olympic competition. Upon doing so, the U.S. Olympic Committee can either remove a post or send a cease-and-desist letter to the athlete. Needless to say, it makes for a pretty enticing scenario for any sponsor able to afford the price of getting their name noticed on arguably the biggest stage on the planet.