X Games prove to be big hit for ESPN
February 7, 2002
The Winter X Games were a hit on TV.
Sunday afternoon’s showing of the X Games on ESPN was the highest-rated and most-watched Winter X Games telecast ever for the cable channel, reaching 895,000 households.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Josh Krulewitz, director of communications of ESPN-owned events, including the X Games. “The product continues to improve.”
Also setting a record was Monday’s telecast on ESPN2, which was the second-highest-rated and most-watched Winter X program on that cable channel, reaching 416,000 households.
The sixth Winter X Games were taped at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen Jan. 17-20, and the program aired Feb. 1-5. The games are set to be held in Aspen again next winter.
Ratings and viewership for the first four days of the Winter X Games on ESPN were strong, with 417,000 households on average watching the various shows, said Krulewitz. He did not yet have information on how the final shows on Tuesday fared.
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And this year’s TV audience was bigger than for last year’s show, which was taped at Mount Snow, Vt. Last year, the average Winter X Games telecast was seen in 380,000 households.
“Anytime you have an increase in this segmented cable universe, it’s a great, great story,” said Krulewitz.
The viewership was also up for the Winter X Games telecasts on ESPN2, which averaged 312,000 households this year compared to 252,000 households last year.
The ratings were also up over last year on ABC, the parent network of ESPN. The X Games were shown on Saturday and Sunday afternoon on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
Preliminary viewership numbers from ABC show that over 2 million households likely tuned in to the Winter X Games on Sunday, which featured the Moto X big air, the Ultracross skiing and snowboarding races, and the Snocross snowmobile racing finals.
“These preliminary numbers are a very good sign,” said Krulewitz. “We think that clearly, the audience is responding to the programming.”
There were 15 hours of original programming produced from the X Games event in Aspen, and up to 50 hours of different segments will be rebroadcast over the next year. The games are also shown in almost 150 countries.
Krulewitz said the ESPN Winter X Games are valuable to advertisers, and to the host resort, because they reach elusive younger viewers who are just forming brand preferences.
“Exposure does translate into value in a big way,” Krulewitz said. “Look at the numbers. Over 2 million households alone on Sunday were watching Aspen.”