SBD/13/Events Attractions

SPONSORS NO LONGER DEFYING GRAVITY: GAMES A BOOST TO NBC?

          Around 200,000 spectators attended NBC's inaugural
     Gravity Games in RI, and brands such as Mountain Dew,
     Doritos, Toyota, Hasbro Interactive, the U.S. Marines,
     Ultimate Speed Stick and Unionbay "ponied up to" $3M apiece
     for "top-tier, multimedia sponsorship packages" around the
     event, according to Laura Petrecca of AD AGE, who examines
     the alternative sports festival.  IEG Sponsorship Report
     revealed that sponsorship revenue for extreme sports reached
     $135M last year, up from $24M in '93, and Petrecca writes
     the alternative sports festivals are "a cultural force
     clearly ready to burst into the mainstream."  By creating
     the Gravity Games, NBC's "hope was to replicate the success
     ESPN has had with its X-Games," which resulted this year in
     ESPN pulling in $22M from 15 "top-tier sponsors."  NBC
     Sports Ventures VP/Business Development Kevin Monaghan: "We
     had been monitoring what ESPN was doing and were envious." 
     In development, NBC recruited a dozen "interns" to "compile
     information on the market for extreme sports, even if it
     meant spying on ESPN.  Most of the interns made calls under
     the guise of doing research for a school project."  Extreme
     athlete Biker Sherlock later become a "project consultant." 
     NBC then joined with Emap/Petersen's premerger Petersen
     unit, which was creating its own sports festival.  The joint
     effort was seen as a "marketer's dream," as NBC provided the
     production capabilities and distribution platform, while
     Petersen "added credibility within the extreme sports
     market."  The two established a revenue sharing deal under
     which Petersen "assumed more risk."  Petersen CEO James
     Dunning "estimates" the Games will add about $10M a year in
     profits to Emap/Petersen (AD AGE, 10/11 issue).
          READ THE PROMO, BOB: NBC's Bob Costas, plugging the
     Gravity Games during the third inning of last night's Mets-
     Braves Game One telecast: "This weekend, all eyes will be
     focused on the vert ramp, as skateboarding legend Tony Hawk
     takes his game to the half pipe and goes for Gravity Gold in
     the skate-vert finals.  That sounds very exciting, although
     I have absolutely no idea what I just read" (NBC, 10/12).

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