ESPN announced today that it has reached a milestone agreement in principle with Aspen Skiing Company that will keep X Games in Aspen/Snowmass, Colo. through 2019, making Aspen/Snowmass the most tenured X Games host city. Front Row sat down with Tim Reed, ESPN’s senior director of X Games Content Strategy, to talk about the announcement and the growing popularity of X Games, which run Thursday through Sunday across ESPN platforms.
Why is Aspen/Snowmass such a special venue for the X Games?
Aspen as a ski town is tremendous. There are so many great elements that make it an awesome place. Buttermilk provides the necessary space for X Games and Aspen Ski Company provides their staffing support and facilities. There’s also solid support from the city as well as all the various city agencies. In terms of coming and doing a job, we couldn’t ask for a better place. To know we will be here another five years, it’s another great opportunity to elevate that relationship.
What excites you about X Games staying in Aspen?
I’m looking forward to seeing how we can make this event even better for fans. What can we create around this amazing week in Aspen to make it even more fun? Aspen is an ideal space to produce this event and we are going to push ourselves to elevate the event and keep it an exciting and innovative destination for fans. The athletes have a lot to do with it — the higher the caliber of athletes we attract, the better the event. It’s a constant puzzle that is changing and evolving every year and we work to make sure we can deliver a top-notch experience. We want fans to see the X Games as a great live event and a great television product.
How has popularity of the X Games grown?
We’re getting close to 20 years for the X Games and an exciting part is that we’re going through a generational cycle. Kids who were young and first watching X Games, they may now have kids who are watching, too. And it is exciting to see to see how sports that started as X Games events are now being integrated into the Olympics. It’s great for the event and the sport, and helps us continue to continue to grow our fan base. Bottom line is that it’s a fun deal. Kids come out to it. Families come out to it. And everyone has a great time.
What do you enjoy most about these events?
I’ve worked on the X Games since 1997 and for me it’s all about producing great events like snowboardslope style – my favorite – and all the amazing people we get to work with — our designers, our builders, the local support. Love the athlete stories, too — how they got here, what drives them, etc. Torin Yater-Wallace, an Aspen local, is a perfect example — his passion, drive and love of the sport got him here. He once was a forerunner at the X Games as a little kid, now he’s an elite athlete preparing for the Olympics.
Why is music such and important aspect of X Games?
We are working to broaden and diversify our audience and music will help. Music is a key aspect to this industry and is a seamless fit for X Games. A lot of musicians are participants and vice versa so the integration is authentic. For sure, adding more music to the weekend is exciting.