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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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