SBJ/Jan. 24-30, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

New packages sell for Winter X

ESPN's sales team points to its robust and diverse list of X Games sponsors as evidence that its strategy of customizing sales packages is working.

Winter X Games 15, which begins Thursday in Aspen, Colo., will feature 25 partners across five categories. A year ago, it had 17 partners across two categories. Two years ago, it had 10 sponsors across three categories known as gold, silver and bronze.

Winter X 15 Sponsors

Official
Partners

• Jeep
• U.S. Navy BF
• Goodrich

Multimedia Sponsors
• The North Face
• Vitaminwater
• Oakley
• Loctite
• Samsung/
Verizon

TV Only
• Axe
• State Farm
• Sony Video Games
• Samsung Mobile
• Monster
• Burton Apple
• Disney

Digital Only
• Frontier
• Sprint

Sponsors
Texas Pete
Polaris
Contour
Arma
Nixon Watches
UFC
GoPro

Source: X Games

The gold, silver and bronze packages defined ESPN's X Games sales for more than a decade, but ESPN droppe xd them before last year's Winter X Games in favor of customized packages. The company made the switch because it increasingly found companies preferred picking and choosing from X Games assets, from TV to digital to on-site signage, rather than being forced to buy a gold, silver or bronze package that included all three.

"We're very happy with the traction we've been able to get in the marketplace, considering the shift in overall sponsor packages and our approach to event sponsorships," said Chris Stiepock, X Games vice president of content and sponsorship development. "This list shows that we've been able to listen to sponsors and tailor packages more in line with their preferences."

ESPN developed five categories for this year's X Games: official partners, multimedia sponsors, TV-only sponsors, digital-only sponsors and sponsors.

Official partners get rights to the X Games marks, on-site activation, on-site signage, and a fully integrated media buy across ESPN's TV, digital, print and radio platforms. Multimedia sponsors will receive on-site signage and activation rights and TV and digital advertising.

The TV- and digital-only partners will receive no on-site rights, while X Games sponsors will receive exclusively on-site rights and no media exposure.

ESPN sold out of its suite inventory at the base of the superpipe, where it has six suites, and sold enough guest passes to its VIP room to be at capacity. ESPN developed both the suite and hospitality programs in the last two years as a way to drive additional revenue around the event.

"We recognize that our event is a good place to do business even if you're not a sponsor," Stiepock said.

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