SBJ/Jan. 10-16, 2011/Media

Architect of X Games returns as consultant

Five years after stepping away from day-to-day involvement in the X Games, its creator, Ron Semiao, is back.
Semiao, a longtime ESPN executive who developed the X Games in 1995, has taken an active role as a programming consultant and content strategist on the X Games. It’s a role that will see him influence where X Games broadcasts are slotted on ESPN’s family of networks, what sports are featured during broadcasts and how long those sports are showcased.
“Ron is a phenomenal programmer, and he understands how to drive ratings,” said Chris Stiepock, X Games vice president of content and sponsorship development. “He is an extremely passionate and energetic guy, and he tends to lift people up around him.”
Semiao founded the X Games in 1995 and stayed involved in the event on a day-to-day basis until 2005. He’s spent the last four years as senior vice president of ESPN Films. In that role, he developed a number of scripted films such as “Ruffian” and one of ESPN’s first 3-D films, “X Games 3D: The Movie.”
“I’m very excited and enthusiastic about the future growth opportunities for the X Games franchise on a global basis,” Semiao said.
Semiao’s return to the X Games follows the move of the X Games franchise and organization back under the programming department. Scott Guglielmino, who now oversees the X Games as senior vice president of programming and Global X, thought Semiao’s daily involvement with the franchise would help reinvigorate the brand and business.
Summer X Games averaged a 0.72 rating and 1.17 million viewers during four broadcasts on ESPN and ESPN2 last summer, according to Nielsen. The audience was down more than 10 percent from the 2009 Summer X Games, which averaged a 0.87 rating and 1.3 million viewers across four broadcasts in similar time slots on the same network.
X Games executives Tim Reed, senior director of sports and competition, and Phil Orlins, coordinating producer, will continue to manage the competition schedule for future summer and winter X Games. Semiao will determine how many hours of programming will air and whether or not that programming will air on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
“His knowledge as a programmer is phenomenal,” Stiepock said. “It’s a great asset to have.”
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