Shaquille O'Neal To Host Cartoon Network's "Hall Of Game" Award Show
Part of Shaquille O'Neal's appeal which led to a programming deal with Turner Sports last summer was the former NBA star's ability to transfer seamlessly from TNT's "Inside the NBA" to other Turner properties. Knowing that O'Neal's popularity transcended sports fans, Turner's deal included a development deal with its entertainment and animation networks. O'Neal's first effort from that development deal will come to fruition next month when he hosts the "Hall of Game" awards on Cartoon Network Feb. 20 at 7:00pm ET. The show features categories such as best male and female athlete and most stylish athlete. Last year, winners included Saints QB Drew Brees and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick for best male and female athletes, while Heat F LeBron James was voted as the most stylish. Cartoon Network viewers vote on the sports stars and moments that will be highlighted, and last year's show logged 37 million votes. This year's show will be produced next month in L.A. and provides the latest example of corporate siblings working together. Turner Broadcasting President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy and other Cartoon Network execs said he was instrumental in pushing the second annual "Hall of Game" awards show forward. "We thought it was an opportunity to do some things a little bit differently," said Cartoon Network Exec VP/Sales & Marketing & Cartoon Network Enterprises John O'Hara.
SPONSORSHIP AHEAD OF LAST YEAR: While he would not discuss specifics, O'Hara said sponsorship sales of the event are pacing ahead of last year, with several sponsors signing up for months-long campaigns around the show. "When the sponsors get involved with us, the partnerships go beyond the night of the event," O'Hara said. Turner signed Hasbro and Kids Foot Locker as returning sponsors. Hasbro will promote its Nerf brand, and Kids Foot Locker will sponsor the "Gnarliest Newb" award. Hasbro committed to tune-in messaging leading up to the awards show; Kids Foot Locker has been promoting the show on its website. Kids Foot Locker also is promoting a "Sickest Sneaker" vote, which will be announced in a commercial break during the show. Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment's "The Lorax" signed on as a new sponsor. "There's a lack of kids sports programming in the market," O'Hara said. "The sports market is so strong right now, we wanted to tap into that." IMG Media produces the program. Michael Dempsey and Steve Mayer will return as exec producers.