SBJ/November 28-December 4, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Hawk wants to put on awards show that will unite action sports

Terry Lefton
For the past decade or more, marketers have been bombarded with stats about the growing importance of action sports within the culture of the 18 and under set. Now we’re at the point that what once were called “extreme” sports generate $12.1 billion in annual domestic retail sales, while 12 million Americans skateboard each year along with some 2.6 million BMX riders. Still, the action sports landscape remains splintered, making it less advertiser friendly. Even media buyers have to decide whether to align with ESPN’s X Games or NBC’s Dew Tour — or both.

Looking to provide better connective tissue, a group composed of alt sports legend Tony Hawk, Marc Lucas at production house 12th Street Films and Peter Murray at William Morris Endeavor are developing an action sports awards show as a two-hour TV and live-event property for 2012. Distribution is not set, but Murray is hoping to finalize a broadcast or cable partner early next year.

The group developing the new event is hoping to lock in a TV partner early next year.
As it stands, there are two likely time frames: spring or fall. Holding the awards in May would put them in the same time as the Empire Open, a nascent alt sport competition that Madison Square Garden is planning for that time and also shopping a $3 million title sponsorship.

Another possibility is October, which would pair it with the final event of the Dew Tour season in Las Vegas.
Hawk described the concept as something “with the feel of an awards show, but a little more gritty,” with an almost equal amount of time dedicated to awards and musical performances. Honors will be awarded in skateboarding, BMX, snowboarding, supercross, surfing and FMX, with fan voting determining most of the results.

“We’re looking to coalesce the industry and celebrate the impact action sports has on culture, music, fashion and technology,” Lucas said.

Fox tried an Arby’s-sponsored action sports awards show in 2006, but it did not catch on, perhaps because an alt sports audience saw awards being presented by pop icons like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.

“All of our stars are pretty mainstream now, so we think it’s the right time,” Hawk said.

Said Murray, “Our ideal network would be one on which music is important, and of course we are looking at digital extensions. Done correctly, this is a platform and not just a TV show.’’

LOOKING FOR IRISH GREEN: We aren’t used to Notre Dame going out of house for much, so we felt it was worthy of note that Wasserman Media Group has a consulting assignment centered on the growth and potential of the Fighting Irish’s digital assets, along with the future plans for the traditional media rights of the school. As it stands, NBC’s TV rights package for Notre Dame football has another four years after the current season, but given the changing landscape at Comast/NBCUniversal, “a lot of new things are now possible within that arrangement that were not possible before,” said one party familiar with the arrangement. “And of course,” this party added, “Notre Dame has a national and international fan base that most colleges don’t.”

Anyone ready for a Fighting Irish Channel, be it broadcast or broadband?

Wasserman’s connections with Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick are deep. Previously, they worked together on a deal through which a consortium of the USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming and USA Track & Field national governing bodies pooled their commercial rights.

HOOPS HYPE: The college hoops version of ESPN’s “College GameDay” is following in the same commercial footsteps as its gridiron antecedent, integrating broadcast talent for a series of commercials. Accordingly, the broadcast talent for “College GameDay Driven by State Farm,” which consists of Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis and Digger Phelps, will assemble and shoot several ads for the insurer in New York City next month. The ads should air by January. “GameDay” will travel to eight college campuses for basketball this season, beginning with Florida State in Tallahassee on Jan. 14.

COMINGS & GOINGS: A few hires at the swelling USA Today Sports Media Group, led by Tom Beusse (SportsBusiness Journal, Oct. 31-Nov. 6). Bouker Pool, Competitor Group senior vice president of marketing, signs on as vice president, sports promotions. The former vice president of sports marketing and events at Rodale had been with San Diego-based Competitor since February 2010. Meanwhile, with the sports marketing group being assembled at Gannett having many Sports Illustrated alums, a current SI staffer also has been added to the mix. Rob Kligman, national advertising director at the Time Warner title, joins the sports media group as vice president, Eastern sales. Kligman had been with SI since 2009. … Bob Philp leaves 16W Marketing after 11 years to join CAA Sports, New York, as an agent.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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