The X Games has been pushing the world of action sports and arguably helping change public perception to many sports outside of the school curriculum since 1995. Yesterday ESPN, the media company that created the X Games, announced that the X Games calendar will be expanded from three to six events worldwide, making it the largest action sport competition in the world. What does this mean? Will the much beloved Kiwi action sport backyard jam, the Frew Farm Jam, be in contention for being swallowed up as part of the new franchise expansion? Will mountain bike slopestyle become an X Games event? Will Kelly McGarry be doing big bar X-ups in the X Games? Maybe not. But what it does signify is that even when ‘the economy’ is pushing events and companies to downscale, action sport is booming. Read the whole story after the jump…

ESPN, the leading action sports content provider and creator of the X Games, today announced a significant milestone in its long-term plans to expand the X Games on a global basis. Beginning in 2013, ESPN will produce six world-class X Games events around the world – two in the U.S. and four outside the U.S.  ESPN is putting significant resources and focus behind this push for international expansion and will bring the most prestigious action sports competition to cities and fans around the world.

ESPN will conduct a formal bid process to determine the three new X Games host cities, which will join the current events in Los Angeles, Aspen and Tignes, France (where ESPN is partnered with Canal+). Cities will be selected in 2012 for a three-year agreement and will work with ESPN to produce the events.

A total of 130 hours of live TV coverage across the six X Games events on ESPN networks in the U.S. and around the world will be supplemented by coverage on digital platforms, including a year-round action sports website. The top priority of the X Games will continue to be to spotlight the world’s best action sports athletes in BMX, Skateboard, Moto X, and Rally Car Racing at the X Games; and Skiing, Snowboard and Snowmobile at the Winter X Games.  Each X Games event will take on its own distinguishing character that will set it apart from the others, including the introduction of new sports and cultural elements based on the locations themselves.  In addition, the X Games will continue to showcase and celebrate action sports competition while also highlighting the artistic and social elements inherent in the action sports lifestyle.

“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, an integral part of the X Games as an iconic athlete and TV analyst, said, “It has been incredible to see the X Games grow from its relatively underground inception in 1995, to a thriving global competition circuit today. 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 the event has grown and expanded its reach into consumer products, theatrical releases and – the definitive site for action sports fans. Over the past decade, the X Games and Winter X Games have enjoyed increased attendance as well as coverage and ratings/usage on TV and other ESPN platforms.  The most recent X Games and Winter X Games each set attendance records, pushing all-time attendance to more than two million spectators.

This expansion will be the first of its kind for the franchise in terms of size, scope and scale, but since 1998 the X Games has successfully organized smaller events, qualifiers and demonstrations in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Philippines and Dubai.


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