David OwenAs I write this, there are somewhere between 7.2 and 7.3 billion human beings living on this planet.

And the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stands to collect approximately 40 US cents (£0.25/€0.32) from each of us in return for making the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in two years' time available to watch on TV.

Not directly, of course: the Olympic Charter says that the IOC "takes all necessary steps in order to ensure the fullest coverage by the different media and the widest possible audience in the world for the Olympic Games"; so the best of the action is always available on free-to-air media.

But broadcasting organisations and media agencies look set, nonetheless, to pay the IOC $2.8-$2.9 billion (£1.7-£1.8 billion/€2.2-€2.3 billion) for the right to screen Rio 2016 in different parts of the world, recouping their outlay (or so they must hope) by selling advertising and supplementary paid-for coverage and services.

Based on these rights fees, which country's viewers are the most - and indeed the least - valuable in the world?

The last time I embarked on this exercise, ahead of London 2012, I was surprised to discover that the most valuable potential Olympic viewers were not the inhabitants of the USA.

Instead, sports-crazy Australia pipped them to the post, with Japan completing the podium, and New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada and Italy making up the minor placings

Sports-crazy Australia is no longer the nation with the most valuable Olympic viewers ©Getty ImagesSports-crazy Australia is no longer the nation with the most valuable Olympic viewers
©Getty Images

This time, with Australian market conditions having moved against the IOC, potential US Summer Games viewers are comfortably the most expensive, with NBC Universal paying the equivalent of around $3.80 (£2.35/€3.01) a head, by my calculations, for the right to air Rio 2016 on US soil.

I make that more than $1 (£0.62/€0.79) a head above what Australia's Seven Network agreed to pay for the right to broadcast to its domestic audience, in one of the last Rio 2016-related deals to be completed.

It is worth pointing out at this juncture that while I have done all in my power to make these calculations as accurate as I can, a number of variables - fluctuating exchange rates, precise population levels, the apportionment of fees between Winter and Summer Games - not to mention a growing tendency for fees paid to be kept confidential, means they must inevitably be treated with a certain amount of caution.

Assessing the correct valuation of Japanese viewers provides a perfect illustration of this conundrum, with the reported JPY¥36 billion (£205 million/$331 million/€262 million) price tag for this deal, covering the 2014 and 2016 Games, converting into much less in US dollar terms today than two-and-a-half years ago, when the agreement was completed.

One must presume that the IOC will have hedged itself against some of this currency market volatility; but I have no way of knowing what the effective exchange rate on this transaction will ultimately be.

The view I have taken values each potential Japanese viewer of the Rio 2016 Games at a touch under $2 (£1.24/€1.58), about half the US level, which puts Japan below Australia and Italy in fourth place in the classification.

Each potential Japanese viewer of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games can be valued at just under $2 ©Getty ImagesEach potential Japanese viewer of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games can be valued at just under $2 ©Getty Images

However, I completely accept both that the reality as expressed in the IOC's financial accounts might turn out to be different, and that others might just as legitimately come up with a different valuation.

What is indisputable, if at first glance slightly illogical, is that the valuation of potential European viewers has jumped between London 2012 and Rio 2016.

For London 2012, I estimated the value of each European citizen - excluding Italians, who were already covered by their own national deal - at between 60 cents (£0.37/€0.48) and $1.

This time around, even though the Games are being staged in a different continent, the IOC has pushed up the value of each potential viewer in the big, affluent West European markets of France, Germany, Spain and the UK to between $1.25 (£0.77/€0.99) and $1.55 (£0.96/€1.22) by my calculations.

Italy, for which rights were sold to Rupert Murdoch's Sky Italia as long ago as 2009, is meanwhile I think set to yield more than $2 a head to the Olympic Movement.

The IOC has achieved this without obliterating the value of other European markets, rights to which were sold in an agency deal that should yield the Movement the equivalent of something like 50 US cents (£0.31/€0.39) per head of population covered.

Turkey, where rights were also sold separately, has ended up as the least remunerative European market for Rio 2016 as far as the Movement is concerned, at 25-30 cents (£0.15-£0.19/€0.20-€0.24) per capita.

This, however, makes no allowance for the fact that the 50 cents-a-head  pan-European agency agreement is an average price, and that follow-on deals between the agency and national broadcasters will no doubt place widely varying notional valuations on individual viewers in different countries.

The other region where the IOC has been able to make significant headway is Latin America, the sub-continent that will host the Summer Games in 2016.

Host-nation Brazil is paying, by my reckoning, the equivalent of about 80 cents (£0.50/€0.63) per head, and the rest of the region, on average, about 25 cents.

On a per capita basis, the fees paid in Africa and much of Asia remain low ©AFP/Getty ImagesOn a per capita basis, the fees paid in Africa and much of Asia remain low
©AFP/Getty Images

Fees paid in Africa and most of Asia are still very low on a per capita basis, a consequence both of widespread poverty and high population levels.

Yet here too some advance is discernible, notably in China, the most populous nation of all, which is now among the top 10 purely national territories for the IOC for broadcasting rights, while still yielding less than 10 cents (£0.06/€0.08) per head of population.

By my calculations, the IOC also still collects less than 10 cents per potential viewer from the Arab world, including north Africa, and vast swathes of Asia, from Indonesia to Turkmenistan.

The Asian territories - which also include the likes of Thailand, Vietnam and Uzbekistan - are covered by two exclusive gatekeeper deals with the Japanese advertising company Dentsu.

Even 10 cents a head is lucrative compared to the sum generated from south Asia, a zone covering not far off 1.7 billion people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and four other territories.

This looks set, by my reckoning, to produce between 1 and 2 cents a head for the IOC.

And that is probably as good an argument for the inclusion of cricket on the Olympic programme as any.

David Owen worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK. He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 World Cup and London 2012. Owen's Twitter feed can be accessed here.