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Volume 20 No. 42
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X Games sells 11 sponsorships, meets goals

Moving the X Games from late July to late June cost ESPN’s sales team a month of sales time and resulted in the loss of some traditional sponsors, but the group managed to sell 11 sponsorships and meet sales expectations.

In addition to overall sponsorships, ESPN for the first time is selling specific event deals.
ESPN moved the X Games up to this week rather than trying to compete with the Olympics, which open the last weekend in July when the X Games historically have been held. As a result, Eric Johnson, ESPN executive vice president of multimedia sales, said that the event lost some of its traditional sponsors, such as movie studios, which preferred sponsoring the event when it was held in its traditional late July time frame.

“We’re really pleased with the sales efforts,” Johnson said. “We had a little bit of attrition because of business timing, [but] I would deem Winter and Summer X Games a success by all our goals.”

For this week’s event, ESPN’s sales team sold three official partnerships (Ford, Navy and Red Bull), six event partners (Casio-Verizon, Geico, Hot Wheels, Mobil 1, Sony and Supercuts) and two other partners (GoPro and Olympus).

The only official partner from a year ago that opted not to return was BF Goodrich. The tire company developed a commercial around X Games competitor Shaun White last year and promoted it during Summer X, but it is not promoting that campaign this summer.

For the first time, ESPN sold event title sponsorships for the X Games. Sony will be the title sponsor of its Moto Step-Up competition, and GoPro will own BMX Big Air.

X Games partners

Official: Ford, Navy, Red Bull
Event: Casio-Verizon, Geico, Hot Wheels, Mobil 1, Sony, Supercuts
Others: GoPro, Olympus

Source: X Games

Hot Wheels is another first-time deal for the property. The sponsorship gives Mattel, which owns the brand, on-site activation rights but does not include any media. Hot Wheels is building a six-story, double vertical loop on-site and will attempt to break a world record for racing two vehicles through the loop at speeds of 52 mph.

All three of those deals highlight what Johnson described as an X Games shift to customized packages.

“It’s the way we’re selling sponsorships and indicative of what we’re going to do with global [X Games],” he said.

Johnson added that this week’s event will be the last held under X Games’ current sponsorship business model.

ESPN is taking the property global with events in France, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Los Angeles and Aspen, Colo. It is looking for six global sponsors that will have rights to all of those events. It also will sell local sponsorships in non-competing categories.

X Games will host dozens of prospective global X Games sponsors at this week’s event.