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ESPN to drop International X Games competitions, cut jobs

By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - ESPN said on Thursday it will end the international versions of its X Games extreme sports competitions because it could not make money on the events, which feature skateboarding and other sports.

The sports cable network owned by Walt Disney Co will be cutting an unspecified number of jobs related to the International X Games, which took place in cities including Barcelona, Munich, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil and Tignes, France. The International X Games had been broadcast on ESPN's flagship U.S. channel and its sister network, ESPN 2.

ESPN owns the X Games and had announced the international expansion in 2011. It had organized the events for one year and had two years left on its contract.

The U.S. X Games, which take place in Austin, Texas, in the summer and Aspen, Colorado, in winter, will continue. ESPN started the competition in the summer of 1995 in Rhode Island.

"We are proud to have run world-class competitions for both the athletes and spectators; however, the overall economics of these events do not provide a sustainable future path," an ESPN spokeswoman said in a statement.

"The company remains fully committed to the X Games brand and its full-scale competitions in Aspen, Colorado and Austin, Texas."

ESPN added it did not see a "sustainable path for economics of these events."

Regarding the related job cuts, ESPN said: "Changes of this nature require difficult decisions, including the elimination of some roles. Under the two-event model ESPN will require a smaller workforce to stage and support the events."

ESPN said a company-wide memo on the move was sent out on Thursday.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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