ESPN, the leading action sports content provider and creator of the X Games, announced a significant milestone in its long-term plans to expand the X Games on a global basis.
Beginning in 2013, ESPN will stage six world-class X Games events around the world - two in the U.S. and four events outside the U.S. ESPN is putting significant resources and focus behind this push for expansion outside the U.S. market and will bring the most prestigious action sports competition to cities and countries around the world. The X Games will continue to showcase and celebrate action sports competition while also showcasing the artistic and social elements inherent in the action sports lifestyle and youth culture.
As of Wednesday's announcement, ESPN will conduct a formal bid process to determine the X Games host cities. In addition to the current events in Los Angeles, Aspen and Tignes, France where ESPN is partnered with Canal+, ESPN will add three international events which will be selected through the bid process. Final cities will be selected in 2012 for a three-year agreement and will work with ESPN to stage the event.
Along with a commitment to distribute 130 hours of live TV coverage of the six X Games events throughout all of ESPN networks in the U.S. and around the world annually, a year-round action sports website will also help support the appetite for premier action sports content. The foundation and the number one priority of the X Games events will continue to be the world's best action sports athletes that will be invited to compete in the following sports for X Games: BMX, Skateboard, Moto X, Rally Car Racing; for Winter X Games: Skiing, Snowboard and Snowmobile. Each X Games event will take on its own distinguishing characteristics that will set it apart from the others including introductions of different sports, cultural elements and the locations themselves.
"We are incredibly excited to take the X Games to the next level," said Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president, programming and Global X Games. "While we have produced events under the X Games banner outside the U.S. for many years, these four new X Games events will be of the same size and stature as the Los Angeles and Aspen events."
Pro skateboarder and legend, Tony Hawk, has been an integral part of the X Games over the past 17 years as a fan, iconic athlete and TV analyst. "It has been incredible to see the X Games grow from its' relatively underground inception in 1995, to a thriving global competition circuit today," said Hawk. "Our sports have benefited greatly from the positive exposure over the years, and I am proud to have watched it all evolve since the beginning."
Since the X Games began in 1995, the franchise has evolved into a recognized, global brand as well as expanded its reach to consumer products, theatrical releases and ESPN.com/action - the definitive site for action sports fans. Over the past decade, the event overall has increased its ratings, attendance and coverage. As of 2009, the X Games set multiple records with the most viewed X Games ever where a record 44 million people tuned into X Games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC during the four day event, and the X Games reached a milestone with two million spectators over the 15 years.
While this expansion will be the first of its kind for the franchise in size, scope and scale, the X Games has successfully organized smaller events, qualifiers and demos in the following international locations since 1998: Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Philippines and Dubai.