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).