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  • NBC LOOKS TO RETAIN ITS YOUTH DEMO WITH GRAVITY GAMES

              NBC Sports and Petersen Companies announced Thursday a
         joint venture in which they will create the Gravity Games,
         an extreme-sports competition that will air on NBC next
         fall.  The inaugural Gravity Games will be in a four-day
         format featuring eleven sports including skateboarding,
         inline skating, wakeboarding and freestyle motorcross
         competitions.  In addition, the Gravity Games will also
         feature a music and entertainment component with live
         performances, product demonstrations and interactive clinics
         between fans and athletes.  The games will take place in an
         undetermined U.S. city next summer and be broadcast on NBC
         over ten hours of programming on Sundays next fall. 
         Advantage Int'l will create and operate the event, while NBC
         and Petersen will share ownership of the Games, including
         plans for a Winter Gravity Games in 2000 (NBC Sports).  
              INTEGRATED APPROACH: In L.A., Greg Johnson writes that
         "the endorsement by two media giants is seen as further
         proof that alternative sports once dismissed as kids-only
         fads are coming of age."  NBC Sports VP Ed Markey: "We're
         looking at something on the order of 'Extreme Lollapalooza.' 
         It should be about 85% competition and 15% lifestyle." 
         Johnson writes that San Diego, L.A., Atlanta and Miami are
         "reportedly" a few of the cities being considered to host
         the Games (L.A. TIMES, 11/6).  AD AGE reports that the Games
         will receive media support through print ads in Peterson's
         16 sports-related titles beginning in March, as well as
         through ads on NBC and in outdoor media.  The Games will
         also have a Web site, http://www.gravitygames.com, that will
         eventually include e-commerce (AD AGE, 11/5).  
              X-CELLENT ADVENTURE? USA TODAY's Sal Ruibal writes that
         NBC's Gravity Games now become a competitor of ESPN's X
         Games, whose format "has been one of the most successful
         ideas on cable television."  Petersen Chair James Dunning,
         Jr.: "These sports have experienced a tremendous surge in
         popularity and now define the male youth culture" (USA
         TODAY, 11/6).  In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that NBC
         recognized that extreme sports "offer an opening to explore
         a viewer niche that is rarely touched by conventional
         sports."  He adds that the X Games "have helped ESPN reach
         the viewers NBC craves," such as the 12 to 34 year-old demo
         which accounted for 51% of the Games' audience last year. 
         NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer: "We never sensed that
         ESPN owned the entirety of the market.  There's an abundance
         of room" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/6).  NBC Sports Chair Dick Ebersol:
         "ESPN does a terrific job with the competition, but we are
         looking to make the Gravity Games edgier, with much more
         emphasis on lifestyle and entertainment.  The networks are
         losing the audience in the 18-34 or 12-34 male groups.  We
         felt we needed a vehicle to introduce those `lost boys' into
         our parts of the world" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/6).  ESPN
         spokesperson Mike Solyts: "We are not surprised others would
         follow our lead" (USA TODAY, 11/6).
    
    

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