X Games Live: With Target Demographic in Mind, ESPN Looks to Link First- and Second-Screens

While ESPN’s primary focus remains on the linear telecast, few events present such a valuable second-screen opportunity as X Games. The population of the event’s primary demographic is fraught with hardcore social media and social TV users, and ESPN has gone to great lengths to integrate these elements into the linear telecast, as well as deliver standalone second-screen video experiences for hardcore X Games fans.

“Our goal, more than ever, is to not just have a first and second screen, which is common now, but to literally program both screens simultaneously,” says ESPN 3D and X Games Coordinating Producer Phil Orlins.

In that vein, ESPN has moved its digital staff and overall content strategy team into the main broadcast center with the rest of the production staff.

“From our position on the TV side, this is the first year we are trying to produce and program content that works best across all screens at the same time,” says Orlins. “It is all about driving engagement. If you get more page views and video starts, that’s great, but if it drives their TV experience as well, then that is the perfect scenario.”

ESPN is regularly promoting Shazam audio recognition during the live telecast in an effort to connect the first and second screens. The initiative stated at Winter X earlier this year, but it has only grown from there.

“Fox example, when Travis Pastrana comes on to join us as a guest during Moto X Best Trick, the first thing in the video queue on the website and mobile is Travis landing his double back flip in that event at the Staples Center five years ago,” says Orlins. “We would put up a Shazam graphic in the telecast and people can go right to the video clip on their phone by using Shazam.”

In all, ESPN3 will carry 24 total hours of coverage, including three exclusive hours, over the four days of X Games. In addition, ESPN3 will live stream on-board camera feeds from the RallyCross competition on Saturday. Users can access ESPN3 online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE.

X Cast
ESPN is once again streaming X Cast on Livestream and Facebook throughout X Games, providing fans with a behind-the-scenes look at L.A. Live. X Cast features live athlete chats, behind-the-scenes commentary from ESPN reporters, and head-judge commentary. Users can also access on-demand event highlights almost immediately after they happen during the telecast. X Cast airs during all live telecast windows throughout the entire event.

Social Media
Social media is a major initiative for ESPN’s X Games coverage this year. In addition to X Cast, the X Games Facebook page, which boasts three million fans, features exclusive video and photo galleries posted daily along with telecast and event information. Twitter coverage (X Games has more than 170,000 followers) will offer fans instant event updates, results, scavenger hunts, and a behind-the-scenes look at X Games Los Angeles 2012 by tagging #XGAMES or @XGames.

ESPN Mobile
On the mobile side of things, ESPN Mobile TV is carrying 17 hours of live coverage, plus all four X Games Los Angeles late-night highlight shows. In addition, the new X Games app for iPhone, iPad, and Android caters to fans watching from home, on movie devices, or attending the event in person. In addition to video highlights, instant results, personalized schedules, streaming X Cast, and WatchESPN integration, the new app has an interactive timeline, Real Street voting, and notifications for users’ favorite events, athletes, and results.

XGames.com is providing comprehensive on-site coverage, delivering live results, live athlete chats, cross-platform schedule information, breaking news, top X Games moments and written and video event recaps. The site will also feature daily full-bleed photo galleries, video from every medal run at the event, daily highlight video, and behind-the-scenes original video.

Real Street (XGames.com/realstreet) returns for the third year in a row. Sixteen of the world’s best street skateboarders submitted 60-second video parts for a shot at $50,000 and an X Games gold medal. A panel of judges will pick the winning part after the videos air on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 1.

Finally, ESPN Playbook (ESPN.com/Playbook) will highlight coverage of the celebrities and musicians attending X Games through the weekend and the hottest fashions.

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