Today marks one year until the start of Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015, the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event. In April, ESPN and LA2015, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games Organizing Committee, announced ESPN was named the official broadcaster of the games and last week, ESPN joined LA2015, Special Olympics International and Toyota at an event in downtown LA to begin the year-long countdown.
ESPN will be covering the games in English and Spanish via its networks and platforms in the U.S., Mexico, Spanish-speaking Latin America, the Caribbean, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As part of this, ESPN will produce the Opening Ceremony as well as a nightly highlights program. KABC-TV also will play a role in the coverage for the Los Angeles market. (Note: Specific programming and coverage details will be announced in the months ahead).
To commemorate the one-year countdown to the Games, Front Row spoke with Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International, Russell Wolff for insight into ESPN’s coverage plans.
From coverage of the opening ceremony to a daily highlights show, what does this deal say about ESPN’s commitment to Special Olympics?
As a company, we believe in the power of sports to change lives. We believe in the mission of inclusion and feel that the story of the Special Olympics and its athletes is one that fans around the world are interested in. Bottom line, this deal says we understand and we are part of the group of people around the world who know the power that these events, especially the 2015 World Games, have in people’s lives.
From a storytelling point of view, what makes the World Games such a special event?
Athletes from all over the world, gathering in one of the greatest cities in the world, at the site of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, to share an experience around celebrating these athletes in a way that furthers the mission of the Special Olympics. We will tell the story of the Special Olympics and how it provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship like it has never been told before.
What does this deal represent to ESPN’s International networks/businesses?
This is a global event with 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators. It gives us the opportunity to tell the stories of these athletes from the markets we do business in like Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, India, England and others, and to celebrate their participation and their triumphs. We are excited to be working with the Special Olympics to give this World Games more exposure around the world than any event before.
Editor’s note: Disney and ESPN have a long relationship with the Special Olympics, which recently has included a global two-year, multi-million dollar financial and in-kind investment supporting the Special Olympics Unified Sports initiative in September 2013, and ESPN3 providing live coverage of the third-annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball Game in February 2014. Last year, Disney became a Founding Champion of the LA2015 World Games, while ESPN previously provided coverage of the 2011 World Games in Athens on ESPN3.