LAUSANNE, Switzerland – As part of its mission to attract younger fans, the International Olympic Committee announced a sponsorship deal Wednesday with Intel, which will bring virtual reality and 360-degree viewing to mobile devices and TVs as soon as next year's Winter Games.
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The IOC has been aggressive in introducing new sports and disciplines to the Olympics: snowboarding and freestyle skiing on the winter side, with surfing, skateboarding and 3-on-3 basketball coming to summer.
Now, it's a matter of getting kids to watch it all. Olympic viewership has been trending toward an older audience for more than a decade, and IOC president Thomas Bach said "I got really concerned, because then, you have to ask yourself, 'Why?'"
"We could see from about 2012 on that it was very much a question about the platform," Bach said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The youth just weren't watching as much TV as they used to in the past."
The deal covers next year's Olympics through 2024.
Intel, which has been partnering with sports organizations to show the potential of its technology, plans to provide real-time virtual reality viewing for the Pyeongchang Olympics, and will also offer drone technology to give viewers before unseen views of events and opening and closing ceremony.
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Intel will also bring 5G wireless technology to the games "because we have go get the feed off the mountain, or off the drone, or whatever it is, and down to the broadcaster," CEO Brian Krzanich said.
"You don't have the other (technologies) without the 5G," Krzanich said.
The Intel announcement comes a week after the IOC severed its sponsorship deal with McDonald's, even though the deal had three years left.
IOC managing director of television and marketing services Timo Lumme said the committee is still analyzing whether it wants to stay in the so-called retail food market.
Clearly, the Intel deal made the McDonald's decision an easier one for the IOC, which is signing new sponsors to its top-tier sponsorship program at around $200 million for four years — double the value of the old ones.
"With McDonald's, it's very easy," Bach said. "They are changing and we are changing and this is why we agreed on going different ways."
He called it "a mutual agreement at the right time."
"With Intel, here today, this is a novel step, and it's a milestone in achieving our goals" of bringing more young people to the Olympics, Bach said.