Bristol, Conn. -- As the Winter X Games played out in
Vermont last week, ESPN said it plans to boost exposure for the alternative-sports
franchise though more marketing and promotion.
Beginning with its August Summer X Games, ESPN will attempt
to provide live events leading into its X Games telecasts. The network, for example, will
program the Little League World Series -- which attracts a young audience demo -- prior to
its X Games coverage, ESPN executives said.
Taking advantage of the summer school break, ESPN will also
step up promotion of the games in August on various ESPN platforms, including the
Internet. Also, the network will program several X Games qualifying events throughout the
year to keep the events fresh in consumers' minds.
Finally, the network will reduce the number of X Games
competition days from nine to six to provide a "more entertaining presentation for
spectators and television viewers." The summer games will run from August 17 through
"The time is right to take this successful event to
the next level," ESPN president George Bodenheimer said. "With powerful lead-in
programming, coupled with enhanced marketing resources and strategy, the tremendous
athletic talents of our X Games athletes will now be played out on an even greater
Last week, ESPN launched EXPN.com, a Web site
"dedicated to action-sports enthusiasts, lifestyles and events." Also, ESPN2
said it would add two shows -- news program EXPN 2Day and interview show X.B.S.
-- Feb. 17 and 25, respectively. Calling them "interactive programs co-produced by
fans," ESPN said the shows would take viewer suggestions and accept digital photos
and video on the Web site.
ESPN hopes to improve ratings from last year's Winter
X Games, which generated a 0.67 rating for its target 12- to 17-year-old audience, up 23
percent from 1998's numbers.