ESPN and the 2016 Invictus Games Organizing Committee have reached an agreement calling for ESPN to provide exclusive coverage in the United States and around the world of the 2016 Invictus Games, a multi-sport event for wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women.
More than 500 military athletes from 15 countries around the world will compete in the 2016 Games, being held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. from May 8-12. ESPN’s Vice President of Programming and Content Strategy, John Lasker, took a few minutes to talk about the upcoming Invictus Games 2016, the importance of the agreement and how it fits with the programming strategy.
How did the agreement come about?
When the Invictus Games team approached Disney about hosting the 2016 event in Orlando, it was a natural first phone call for the Disney team to inquire about ESPNs interest in televising. Without hesitation, we wanted ESPN to be part of this event. We have a great working relationship with the Disney team at ESPN Wide World of Sports. There are thousands of events that take place at the EWWOS facility and from that comes hundreds of hours of event coverage across our linear and digital networks including Pop Warner football, Varsity cheerleading and AAU.
Why is it important to showcase the Invictus Games and the athletes who participate in them?
The power of sports is an amazing thing. Every day, ESPN showcases the dynamic power of sports through our event coverage and storytelling. The power of sports is at the heart of what the Invictus Games are about. They give wounded service members the opportunity to tap into sport and competition as part of their lifelong healing and recovery process. In turn, the Invictus Games provide a platform for global awareness of the depth and breadth of wounds inflicted on our service members and veterans and their families. There are 50,000 wounded service members and veterans in the U.S. today, not including those with “invisible wounds.” These brave young men and women and their families deserve to have their stories told.
How does this event fit into our programming strategy?
We are really proud to be part of this event. Our 40-plus hours of planned cross-network coverage is proof of our excitement and commitment. We think the combination of fascinating stories, the nationalistic nature of the competition, and our expectation that these events will be competitive and compelling on the field of play make this a natural event for ESPN to cover in the fashion we are. I hope this is just the beginning.