Winter Olympic Sponsors Require Winning and Compelling Storyline

The Pyeongchang Games start on February 9th, but winter Olympians are finding corporate sponsorship opportunities difficult to come by; particularly for those that compete in smaller sports, that don’t have a U.S. following. Athletes that win and have a compelling story are the ones landing corporate sponsorship deals. Slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who won silver in Sochi and is publicly gay, has signed deals with Toyota (TM), United (UAL), Visa (V), Procter & Gamble (PG) and Deloitte. His sexuality is worth noting because human rights groups say that sexual minorities’ rights are not always protected in South Korea; a country where having homosexual relations is punishable by up to 2 years in prison.

Howie Long-Short: Becoming an Olympian is an expensive endeavor. Richard Parsons estimates that it has cost more than $500,000 to get his children (Rachel and Michael, an ice dance team) to cusp of the ‘22 Olympics. It’s unlikely he’ll ever recoup the money. Gold medals are worth just $25,000 in the U.S. and even the USOC acknowledges that most athletes cannot earn enough from their sports to make a living. That’s not the case everywhere though, gold medals are worth $952,000 in Taiwan and $746,000 in Singapore.

Fan Marino: Frigid weather is likely to affect both athletes and fans at the Pyeongchang Games, with the average February temperatures (with wind chill) there in the single digits. The newly built 35,000-seat stadium that will host the opening and closing ceremonies (up to 5 hours long) doesn’t include a roof and it’s too late and expensive to build one now. For those attending, fear not; organizers have promised portable heaters in the isles, blankets and heating pads.

Medals are nice, but sometimes not enough for Olympic athletes seeking sponsors

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Just one week after ESPN (DIS) introduced “SportsCenter AM”, FS1 (FOXA) introduced its newest morning show, “First Things First”. The show pairs NFL Hall of Fame WR Chris Carter with Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe, airing weekdays at 6:30 a.m., 30 minutes prior to its ESPN counterpart. The “First Things First” debut was particularly noteworthy for FS1, as it becomes the first ever NYC based show for the Los Angeles based network and the first time the network has had a presenting sponsor (PG) for a show’s launch. The 3-hour show gives FS1 11 hours of live daytime studio programming daily, as the network continues to move away from highlights and towards discussion/debate.

Howie Long-Short: FS1 has seen their show “Undisputed” with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe grow 1,260% over the last year, to 137,000 viewers. The show actually beat SportsCenter in the 10a-Noon time slot for 2 consecutive weeks in August. Having a live lead-in is only going to help those numbers grow.

Fan Marino: Why did FS1 move “First Things First” to NYC? It’s simply not practical to produce a show that starts at 3 a.m. local time. Even if you could, it would be nearly impossible to book guests. Speaking of guests, moving to the East Coast gives the network access to a whole different group of potential on-set guests.

FS1 looks to establish NY, early-morning presence with ‘First Things First’