ESPN sells X Games franchise to MSP Sports Capital

Private equity firm MSP Sports Capital has acquired a majority interest in the X Games franchise from Disney-owned ESPN. The acquisition is MSP sixth high-profile sports-based deal following investments in McLaren Racing Limited and a global soccer consortium. ESPN Productions will retain a minority, non-controlling position in X Games, and ESPN will serve as the domestic linear broadcast partner as part of a multi-year agreement finalised in conjunction with the transaction.

X Games, founded by ESPN in 1995, pioneered action sports entertainment by introducing the world audience to televised high stakes competition. MSP Sports Capital, which will assume day to day control, says its investment “will continue to invigorate X Games events and increase appeal to a digitally native audience seeking expanded access to athletes and community-driven content”.

Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, said: “We’re proud of what we’ve created with our employees and the athletes over nearly 30 years of world-class X Games events and content. We now look forward to an exciting next chapter with MSP Sports Capital, which has a proven track record of excellence in sports and a dynamic vision for the growth and progression of the industry-leading action sports brand.”

MSP Sports Capital says it will focus on infusing new energy to the brand, prioritising premiere athlete and fan experiences, and investing in technologies to launch the brand into the future. At the helm will be Steven Flisler, CEO X Games, who comes with background in competition, storytelling, and technology. Flisler recently served as VP of original content at Twitch and executive producer of Twitch Rivals since 2018, and previously held various leadership positions across NBCUniversal.

Jeff Moorad, founder and CEO, MSP Sports Capital, added: “MSP Sports Capital is excited about the future of X Games and being the new stewards of such an important part of sports history and its reimagined future.” Skateboarding icon Tony Hawk will also join the X Games investor group as a brand steward.

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