Winter X in Aspen loses sponsorship money |

Winter X in Aspen loses sponsorship money

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Even Aspen’s popular Winter X Games is not immune to the economic downturn.

Revenue from sponsorships is down this year, according to ESPN executive Rick Alessandri, who declined to state exactly how much revenue had been lost.

Several top sponsors have dropped out in the last several months, though the event picked up some lower-level sponsorships.

“Given the economic environment out there, obviously we’re being impacted, like everyone else,” said Alessandri.

Because admission to the Winter X Games, which is being held this weekend at Buttermilk, is free, sponsorship revenue makes up a substantial portion of the expenses involved in building courses and producing the event, Alessandri said. But he pointed to Wednesday’s extension of the games to 2012 as evidence that ESPN has no intention of canceling the event, even with declines in sponsorship.

The biggest drop out was gold-level sponsor 20th Century Fox, which joined the Winter X Games in 2008 to promote the science fiction movie “Jumper.” The highest level of sponsorship available, gold sponsors are given more commercial spots and on-site signage, among other benefits, according to Alessandi.

But Alessandri said losing a studio is not unusual.

“The studios are always hit or miss, depending on what they’re promoting,” he said.

Two more associate sponsors, the sponsorship level just below gold, also declined to return this year. Zune ” a music player whose parent company, Microsoft, saw its stock hit a 10-year low in 2008 ” dropped out, as did Olevia “a television manufacturer whose parent company filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Both had joined the Winter X Games for the first time in 2008

However, the Games picked up one new associate level sponsorship: the Discovery Channel, which is promoting a new show about an escape artist called “One Way Out.”

It also signed on camera manufacturer Olympus and snowmobile/ATV manufacturer Polaris as lower-level sponsors. Energy drink manufacturer Red Bull also joined, with a media-only sponsorship that allows it to run television commercials.

Returning gold-level sponsors include the United States Navy, Edge shaving gel, Jeep and Taco Bell.

Playstation, Oakley ” a sunglasses and apparel company ” and Totino’s pizza rolls also are back as associate-level sponsors.

It’s a group of sponsors notably skewed toward young males, a fact Alessandri attributed to the Games’ ability to reliably attract that important, but “elusive” demographic.

“Young women are much easier to reach in terms of programming content,” he said. “When you look at the research behind where young men consume media, it is very difficult. They’re all over the place. … X Games is one way to reach those men.”

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