ESPN gets LeBron exclusive, sacrifices control over ads and news

LeBron James calls the shotsBasketball superstar LeBron James has given ESPN the exclusive when he
announces the team he’s chosen to play for, on the condition that he
choose the interviewer and all ad revenue (mostly from James’ sponsors)
be donated to charity.

AdAge reports that ESPN said the deal was not equivalent to paying James for the scoop. The Disney sports network stands to lose a lot of ad revenue, with one senior media researcher suggesting that James could “attract more viewers than the 7 game NBA Finals last month on ABC (18.1 million).

But, AdAge says, this unprecedented arrangement could be the start of a new trend in news control:

“Could ESPN actually be setting some sort of precedent? Come to think of it, shouldn’t Brett Favre have done what Mr. James is doing? Should Tom Brady have held such a TV event to announce his return to play after suffering a devastating knee injury in 2008? Might Tiger Woods keep this idea in mind the next time he wants to address the public?

“And if this works, who’s to say the latest reality star, C-list actress, attention-starved politician or self-important bloviator won’t try to get their own charity-minded moment in the sun? Might E! take the bait if Lindsay Lohan wanted to give the network an exclusive in which she broadcasts her first moments getting out of jail — with commercial time to promote her latest business venture?”