David Owen ©ITG

It has been hard going financially for many people these past five or six years, and the Olympic Movement has not been immune to the slowdown.

Even so, I was surprised when scrolling through the 2017 edition of Olympic Marketing Fact File to see that revenue tapped from five leading income sources was actually lower in the 2013-16 Olympic cycle than over the prior quadrennium running from 2009-12.

To be specific, money generated from 1) broadcasting rights, 2) the Olympic Partner Programme (TOP) worldwide sponsorship, 3) Organising Committee (OCOG) domestic sponsorship, 4) ticketing and 5) OCOG licensing came to $7.8 billion (£5.8 billion/€6.5 billion) in 2013-16, down from $8.05 billion (£5.95 billion/€6.75 billion) in 2009-12.

On the face of it, this is quite a Moment.

Overall revenue from these sources has been motoring along very nicely for many years: starting with 1993-96, successive quadrennial totals have been $2.63 billion (£1.94 billion/€2.2 billion), $3.77 billion (£2.79 billion/€3.16 billion), $4.19 billion (£3.1 billion/€3.5 billion), $5.45 billion (£4.03 billion/€4.57 billion) and $8.05 billion (£5.95 billion/€6.75 billion).

Now this impressive progression has been broken.

Actually though, while I have little doubt that Olympic bigwigs would have preferred to have maintained the forward momentum, I do not think this need be a matter of overwhelming concern.

For reasons I will outline later, I would be immensely surprised if this 2013-16 total does not turn out to be a blip, with growth swiftly restored.

First, though, some detail on those 2013-16 numbers.

It was always going to be a tough ask for Rio 2016 and Sochi 2014 to compete with London 2012 and Vancouver 2010 in terms of ticketing ©Getty Images
It was always going to be a tough ask for Rio 2016 and Sochi 2014 to compete with London 2012 and Vancouver 2010 in terms of ticketing ©Getty Images

The biggest deficit vis à vis 2009-12 was in ticketing, with Rio 2016 and Sochi 2014 generating $527 million (£389.5 million/€441.6 million), well under half the London 2012/Vancouver 2010 contribution.

Licensing also produced less than half corresponding 2009-12 revenue at $74 million (£54.7 million/€62 million), versus $170 million (£126 million/€142.5 million).

There was no realistic expectation, however, that Rio would generate anything like the extraordinary ticketing income of London 2012.

For that reason, it is the domestic sponsorship number that, for my money, is the biggest disappointment.

This is even though, at $2.04 billion (£1.51 billion/€1.71 billion), it exceeded the $1.84 billion (£1.36 billion/€1.54 billion) tally of Vancouver and London.

It has long been known that Sochi produced an impressive $1.19 billion (£879 million/€1 billion) total, exceeding London never mind Vancouver, though not quite matching Beijing 2008 which yielded $1.22 billion (£902 million/€1.02 billion) from this one revenue source.

Rio 2016’s domestic sponsorship revenue has now been quantified at $848 million (£627 million/€711 million).

That needs to be seen in the context of a target that was repeatedly reported on this website at $1.2 billion (£887 million/€1 billion), and a tally that was said to have been running at $632 million (£467 million/€530 million) as early as October 2011.

I remain as confident as ever that the 2018 Pyeongchang Games and 2020 Tokyo Games can raise in excess of $10 billion ©Getty Images
I remain as confident as ever that the 2018 Pyeongchang Games and 2020 Tokyo Games can raise in excess of $10 billion ©Getty Images

Had Rio hit this target, overall 2013-16 income would have outstripped the prior quadrennium, notwithstanding the smaller amounts generated from tickets and licensing.

Why am I so confident that 2013-16 will turn out to be a blip? Because of what is already known, or can be deduced, about 2017-20.

I predicted as early as August 2015 that the present quadrennium – the first in which both Winter and Summer Games are to be staged in Asia - could be the first to generate in excess of $10 billion (£7.4 billion/€8.4 billion) for the Movement from broadcasting, sponsorship, ticketing and licensing. I am more than ever confident of that now.

Sponsorship is very much the driver.

The last I read, Tokyo 2020 had secured a staggering $2.8 billion (£2.1 billion/€2.35 billion) in domestic sponsorship; so it is safe to conclude that the total from this source for the cycle will be well over $3 billion (£2.2 billion/€2.5 billion).

Most of that, of course, will remain in Japan, so it is not necessarily all that helpful for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) when it comes to generating cash for wider distribution around the Movement.

After a period of relatively slow growth, however, it looks like the TOP worldwide sponsorship programme will also kick on.

With the likes of Toyota, Intel and Alibaba now on board, my current estimate is that this may produce anywhere between $1.6 billion (£1.2 billion/€1.3 billion) and $2 billion ((£1.5 billion/€1.7 billion), up from just over $1 billion (£740 million/€840 million).

Speaking of ticket sales, both Los Angeles and Paris indicated they were looking to raise more than $1 billion in ticket sales from the 2024 Games ©Getty Images
Speaking of ticket sales, both Los Angeles and Paris indicated they were looking to raise more than $1 billion in ticket sales from the 2024 Games ©Getty Images

Some of this is value-in-kind, not cash, but equally it is not inconceivable that other companies might join before 2020.

With broadcasting rights likely to raise around $4.5 billion (£3.3 billion/€3.8 billion), up from $4.16 billion (£3.07 billion/€3.5 billion), that means that less than $1 billion (£740 million/€840 million) would need to come from ticketing and licensing in Pyeongchang and Tokyo – perhaps substantially less – for that $10 billion (£7.4 billion/€8.4 billion) milestone to be reached.

While history suggests that anything north of $600 million (£440 million/€500 million) from these two sources is pretty good going, London 2012 ticketing revenue reached an outstanding $988 million (£730 million/€828 million) and Tokyo is the type of market, you feel, that should probably be capable of getting within striking distance of that sort of number.

(Both Los Angeles and Paris, incidentally, indicated in their respective 2024 bid books that they were looking to raise more than $1 billion (£740 million/€840 million) from Olympic ticket sales.) 

So, yes, 2013-16 did officially produce less revenue from these five sources than the previous cycle and, yes, that is most definitely worth flagging up.

But, no, it is not the start of a worrying trend.

In spite of the trials and tribulations of the past couple of years, the corporate sector still loves the Olympics too much for significant growth not to resume in the present cycle.