November 28, 2013

ESPN nixes X Games in Brazil Spain Munich and France

That didn’t last long.

Eighteen months after ESPN trumpeted a global expansion that doubled the number of its events – with first-ever summer X Games in Barcelona, Munich and Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil – the company has ended its international blitz.

On Thursday the network announced it was nixing all international X Games events, including the four-year old Winter X Games in Tignes, France, and dropping the suddenly-dead “Global X” plan from six contests to two, with only Aspen and Austin remaining.

In May 2012, the network announced a global expansion into three international cities, including its first-ever push into South America’s vibrant action-sports scene. The plan called for infusing cultural highlights into the contests, with music and film components aimed at overhauling the X Games brand.

“We call it a transformation from an action-sports competition brand into an action-sports lifestyle brand with relevance to contemporary youth around the world,” said Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president of programming and X Games with ESPN, in the May 1, 2012 announcement.

The network signed three-year contracts promising to host the events in Brazil, Spain and Germany through 2015.

In April the network rolled out the expansion in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. The next month was Barcelona. Then Munich. The Summer X Games in August ended an 11-year run in Los Angeles and ESPN announced a four-year deal with Austin to host the multi-sport circus at the city’s new 1,500-acre Circuit of the America’s sports complex.

By most accounts, the international contests were successful. Maybe not successful enough.

“We are proud to have run world-class competitions for both the athletes and spectators; however the overall economics of these events do not provide a sustainable future path,” Guglielmino said in a statement released Thursday.

ESPN promised it remained “fully committed” to the X Games and its competitions in Aspen and Austin. Still, Aspen is waiting for word from the network about Winter X contests beyond 2014. The latest two-year contract between Aspen Skiing Co. and ESPN expires after the January 2014 contest, after 13 years of X Games at the ski company’s Buttermilk ski area. Aspen had bid to retain the winter circus. Heavenly and Squaw Valley ski areas in the Lake Tahoe region of California also submitted a joint bid. The network has said an announcement on a potential new Winter X host will land this fall.


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