ESPN is selling a majority stake in its X Games business to New York-based private equity firm MSP Sports Capital. The sports network, a division of the Walt Disney Co., will continue to air the games and hold a minority interest in the business.
The X Games, started in 1995, take place each summer and winter and showcase a number of extreme sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding and motocross. Participants compete to win medals and prize money. The next games will be held in Aspen, Colorado, from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29.
Steven Flisler, formerly vice president of original content at Twitch, will become chief executive officer of the X Games. Skateboard legend Tony Hawk is joining the investor group that’s being led by MSP and will be involved in the broadcasts.
MSP was founded by Jeff Moorad and Jahm Najafi. The company has also invested in Formula 1’s McLaren Racing as well as four European soccer teams. Moorad is a former talent agent. Najafi is also vice chairman and a minority investor in the Phoenix Suns basketball team.
Moorad said the X Games will have a broadcast agreement in place with ESPN and ABC “for at least the next two years.”
Flisler said he planned to incorporate lessons that he learned at Twitch to make the streaming experience more interactive. He’s also interested in adding athlete content on social media and expanding the X Games calendar beyond the winter and summer games.
“We think that it’s an opportunity to actually take the X Games into the future,” Flisler said of the deal.