X Games VP Tori Stevens discusses Global “X”pansion, challenges and successes
With competition underway in the French resort town of Tignes, France, at the foot of the French Alps, X Games Vice President, Tori Stevens is busy at the company’s Bristol, Conn. headquarters, at the foot of the Litchfield Hills, preparing for the continued rollout of Global X Games 2013 and its three new international host cities. In addition to Aspen, Los Angeles and Tignes, ESPN will bring the greatest action sports athletes from around the world to Barcelona, Spain, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil and Munich, Germany.
Stevens and her events team are responsible for staging the events in LA and Aspen and managing the local organizing committees (LOCs) to execute the events in Tignes, Foz do Iguacu, Barcelona and Munich, and to ensure each takes on its own distinguishing character that will set it apart from all others. The three new host cities will combine to present a unique offering of cultural elements, including music, style and film — all under the X Games brand.
Front Row caught up with Stevens as she was multitasking between meetings in Portuguese, Catalan, Spanish and German — to find out how the next four months are shaping up and the challenges that lie ahead.
What kind of challenge is it monitoring six sites as opposed to three?
As you can imagine, doubling the number of events in 2013 from three to six is an exciting challenge for the X Games team. While Aspen, Tignes and LA are all repeat events, there is still an incredible amount of work that goes into the planning, refinement and execution of these events. However, the real challenge is going into a new location where we are working in new venues, with new partners and vendors in different cultures. This year, we are doing that three times over a three month period in three different countries outside of the US. As challenging as it is, we have great confidence that our team and our LOCs will deliver six world class events this year.
How has Global expansion gone thus far?
When we embarked on this expansion plan over two years ago, we put together a business plan which leveraged our 18 year experience with this franchise. However, there were many new aspects to our plan, including a global bid process, moving to an LOC structure, revamping our sales approach, changing our production and distribution model, launching a new website, etc., etc. With all of that change there are bound to be some things that we couldn’t anticipate. I would say we were pleasantly surprised by the number of cities and countries from around the world who expressed interest in hosting an X Games. On the flip side, we probably underestimated the complexity and time required to sell local sponsorships in markets that have less familiarity with our brand and event.
What’s new on the production side of presenting the X Games?
Phil Orlins, who oversees all of our TV production, and our Productions Operations team have transitioned to more of an IBC (International Broadcast Center) model in the ESPN Digital Center. The competition coverage is produced at the event but integrated through a Digital Center control room here in Bristol. All of the edit facilities and personnel have been relocated to Bristol. This has created an unprecedented model in which we will be simultaneously creating a minimum of six unique telecasts (Sponsored world feed, sponsor-free world feed, US customized feed, Spain customized feed, Brazil customized feed and a Germany customized feed). The sponsor-free world feed will allow us to reach numerous territories that have previously been unable to carry X Games live due to restrictions in many countries. We have made great efforts to expand the distribution of this content both on and off of our networks around the world, and these feeds allow us to do that. We distributed content to more than 430 million homes around the world for our Aspen event.