ESPN Productions has unloaded a majority stake in X Games to MSP Sports Capital, a private equity firm whose expanding sports investments include McLaren Racing and soccer. ESPN will retain a non-controlling position in X Games, which it founded in 1995. Financial terms weren’t released, but ESPN will serve as the domestic linear broadcast partner as part of a multi-year agreement finalized in conjunction with the transaction. MSP will assume day-to-day operational control of the X Games business with former Twitch and NBCU executive Steven Flisler as CEO.
When Jimmy Pitaro got the job of running ESPN in 2018, it was a dream come true for the lifelong sports fan. But the reality of running ESPN has been a far different story, as Pitaro has found himself presiding over a network in decline. ESPN last November laid off 300 people, about 6% of its workforce, a gut-wrenching move for what was once the profit engine of Walt Disney Co. Now ESPN is considering selling small parts of its business.