X Games Minneapolis 2018 experienced double-digit growth on linear television and triple-digit growth across digital/streaming services and social networks. Long considered to have a niche audience, television viewership for the 4-day action sports competition rose +38% YoY across ESPN, ESPN & ABC (DIS); it was the 2nd straight X Games (X Games Aspen 2018) to experience double-digit growth. On digital/social, X Games’ YouTube Channel subscribers streamed over 26 million minutes of extreme sports competition (+646% YoY), Facebook fans tallied 4 million video views (+210% YoY) and the number of Instagram videos watched rose +225% YoY; authentic “behind the scenes” access (i.e. not staged) and instant highlights of tricks, made usage of the that app a must for second screen viewers.
Howie Long-Short: The 38% YoY increase in television viewership comes with a caveat. The 2017 Summer X Games were the lowest rated Summer X Games in history; a -35% decline from 2016. With that said, the double-digit increase is noteworthy because pay television trends are going in the wrong direction. Demo reported that Q1 ’18 viewership declined -56% within the 12-17 age demo, -48% in the 18-24 demo viewership and 34% between 25-34 year olds. When you consider those figures, you must applaud ESPN for growing X Games viewership with fans in both the 18-34 (+34%) and 12-34 (+21%) demographics.
Fan Marino: Rising attendance (+8% to 119,000) can be attributed to X Games placing a greater focus on the “X Games Experience” (i.e. giving fans entertainment options beyond just the competition). What was once solely an action sports showcase has morphed into an experience that blends action sports with art, food and music; Ice Cube, Kaskade and Zedd headlined at this summer’s Games.
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