Al Michaels Traded For A Cartoon Rabbit

One of the most interesting parts of the deal that will bring Monday Night Football’s Al Michaels over to NBC’s Sunday Night Football next season is the transfer, from NBC/Universal to ABC/Disney, of the rights to Oswald the Rabbit, Walt Disney’s pre-Mickey cartoon creation.

As the forerunner to Mickey Mouse and an important part of Walt Disney’s creative legacy, the fun and mischievous Oswald is back where he belongs, at the home of his creator and among the stable of beloved characters created by Walt himself,” Disney president Robert Iger said after Thursday’s announcement.

NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said ABC Sports and ESPN president George Bodenheimer called last month to initiate talks, which culminated in an agreement Tuesday.

“He told me this incredible story that Walt’s first really big production as a cartoonist for the cinema had been a character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which was before Mickey,” Ebersol said. “And for reasons that aren’t still totally clear to me, Walt lost those rights. He didn’t have the money to hold onto them.”

Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, said in a statement, “When Bob was named CEO, he told me he wanted to bring Oswald back to Disney, and I appreciate that he is a man of his word. Having Oswald around again is going to be a lot of fun.”