The 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games are underway and ESPN – in its fourth year presenting the event — is the place to watch. ESPN — which recently agreed to a multi-year contract extension with CrossFit — is currently presenting more live CrossFit Games action than ever before on TV and ESPN3. (View full schedule and details.)
Front Row caught up with Todd Myers, ESPN director of programming and acquisitions, to discuss ESPN’s coverage of the CrossFit Games.
What about the CrossFit Games makes it attractive from a programming standpoint?
The CrossFit Games epitomize what fans have come to expect from ESPN – world class competition. It’s truly a global event with more than 200,000 competitors attempting to advance to California for the right to be crowned the ‘Fittest on Earth.’ From the very first live event on ESPN3 in July 2011, we realized the Games have a ‘stickiness’ factor to them. Once you start watching, it’s hard to stop. Everyone wants to see what the next daunting challenge will be and which competitor will conquer it to take another step towards their dream.
What about the new contract extension with CrossFit excites you the most?
The opportunity to carry every second of the competition live across ESPN3, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN’s International TV/broadband platforms. The Games started with the Masters (division) on Tuesday. The first event was Deadlift Ladder, Women 60-plus. The winner, Lones Stern-Banks, set a personal record by deadlifting 295 pounds! What an incredible feat, which ESPN3 would not have been able to carry without extending our agreement with the CrossFit Games.
What do you enjoy most about the CrossFit Games?
It’s an inspirational experience for me. When you see how hard the athletes push themselves and clearly train year round to be in peak physical condition, it makes it a little easier to push myself to run an extra mile or do an extra set. This year specifically, I’m intrigued to see if Rich Froning can four-peat. It’s extremely difficult to win any team or individual championship four consecutive years. So for Froning to be crowned the Fittest on Earth four straight years would be an absolutely incredible accomplishment.
To get in the spirit of the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games on ESPN’s networks, ESPN’s Wellness Team recently hosted its second ESPN Fitness Challenge for ESPN employees on the company’s Bristol, Conn. campus green. Employees were put through a series of high-intensity exercises, which included push-ups, bear crawls, burpees and other challenges. In the video above, employees shared their thoughts before and after the challenge.
Video produced by Josh Lander and Stephen McDonald