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Sports powerhouse brand ESPN has sold a controlling stake in its X Games property to MSP Sports Capital, a private equity firm led by sports industry veterans Jeff Moorad and Jahm Najafi.
Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed, but the agreement will see ESPN Productions retain a minority stake in X Games, which was launched by the all-sports cable channel in 1995. And ESPN will become the domestic linear broadcast partner for the X Games, along with ABC networks, as MSP takes over day-to-day running of the X Games business.
Taking the helm as CEO of the X Games is Steven Flisler, who most recently served as vp of original content at Twitch and, before that, worked at NBCUniversal in live productions. And pro skateboarding legend Tony Hawk will join the X Games investor group as a brand steward on its advisory board.
The private equity fund will also “reimagine” the sports property with more athlete and fan experiences, and access to more digital platforms. MSP also has investments in McLaren Racing Ltd. and a global soccer consortium.
“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,” Jeff Moorad, founder and CEO of MSP, said in a statement.
X Games sees competition in skiing, snowboarding, Moto X, BMX freestyle and skateboarding. The X Games business will host X Games Aspen 2023 live from Aspen, Colorado from Jan. 27 to 29, 2023.
The sale of the majority interest in the ESPN property, which is part of the sports network’s direct-to-consumer offering ESPN+, follows New York-based hedge fund manager Dan Loeb of investment firm Third Point calling for Disney to evaluate whether to spin off its ESPN business and integrate Hulu directly into Disney+ platform. Loeb subsequently backed off from that proposal.
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