Duo pact to release extreme sports, music combo

HOLLYWOOD — Proving the union of music and sports has moved a considerable distance from slow-motion NFL highlights and “What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor,” ESPN and Warner Music’s Rhino imprint have partnered to bring together the X Games and contempo rock acts.

Disney’s ESPN and the recently dubbed Rhino Transport will release a dozen DVDs by the end of next year; six titles will fall in an “Inside X” series, and six will be filled with ESPN archival footage. The first release, “Inside X: ESPN’s X Games IX,” will hit stores Nov. 11. A 16-track, 63-minute CD soundtrack will be packaged with the DVD.

Although Disney and Warner are competitors in homevideo, ESPN has worked with a variety of distributors depending on what the partner brings to the table.

Generational focus

“We always felt compelled that music needed to be a part of (the series),” said Rick Alessandri, ESPN Enterprises senior VP and general manager. “That’s what led us to Warner, which has a tremendous marketing focus on the X Games generation — and the music elements were overly compelling.”

Accompanying the visuals of high-flying athletes on skateboards, motorcycles, bikes and surfboards will be music from Jet, Pantera, Simple Plan, Ramones, Blue Man Group, MC5, O.A.R., Fu Manchu, Ministry and others.

Warner Music sees the DVDs as an opportunity to introduce the core X Games crowd — 12- to 24-year-old males — to new bands as well as catalog material, some of which is licensed from other labels.

Core aud overlap

“Their core audience overlaps with the core audience labels are trying to reach,” said Scott Pascucci, president of Warner Strategic Marketing, which oversees Rhino.

“These titles will take the audience behind the broadcast of the X Games and bring out a sense of personality that you don’t see on TV,” he added. “The focus is on stories, not just clips. And from a historical context, it will expose kids to music and (athletic achievements) they may have missed the first time around.”

Rhino Transport launched earlier this year with the DVD release “Flipped Out: The Story Behind the Ultimate Freestyle Motocross Maneuver,” featuring Mike Metzger, Carey Hart and Caleb Wyatt.

Among the titles being released in 2004 are Spike Jonze’s skateboard film “Yeah Right” and the sequel to the Motocross classic “Freeride Revolution.”

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