ESPN ‘Trades’ Michaels for NBC Rights

As part of the transaction permitting sportscaster Al Michaels to reach a contract with NBC, ESPN received “significant programming and promotional rights,” along with a piece of history.

ESPN received the rights to:

• Live Friday coverage of four Ryder Cups -- 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 -- as well as ancillary programming rights, the right to reair NBC coverage and extended highlights rights;

• Expanded video highlights for ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNews for the Olympic Games, beginning with this month’s Winter Olympics and continuing through the 2012 Summer Games;

• NBC will air a video promotion for ESPN’s Monday Night Football game each week through 2011 during its Sunday-night football telecasts; and

• Also through 2011, ESPN will get expanded highlight rights for NBC Sports properties including Notre Dame football, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness as part of a broad highlights exchange.

As for the history portion, ESPN parent The Walt Disney Co. acquired rights to a 1927 cartoon series featuring “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.” Walt Disney himself produced 26 Oswald cartoons, which were distributed by Universal. Universal owned all of the rights to the character, which prompted Walt Disney to create Mickey Mouse.