Facebook will bring Nitro Circus’ motorcycle-flipping, skateboard-spinning and BMX-twirling action to the social platform this year, under an exclusive live-streaming deal spanning 28 events and related content.
Nitro Circus has streamed simulcasts of its Nitro World Games events on Facebook before, but the pact marks the first time that the action-sports media and event production company will broadcast an exclusive selection of Nitro World Games events on Facebook.
Through the end of 2018, Nitro Circus will produce 28 exclusive live broadcasts for Facebook, starting in August. Those include events in a newly expanded 2018 Nitro World Games as well as live-streamed segments from Nitro Circus’ upcoming arena tour. The agreement also covers two new shows produced by Nitro Circus, as “shoulder content” for the live programming.
For Facebook, the deal is part of its steady expansion of original and exclusive sports, news and entertainment content, revolving around the Facebook Watch section. This season, it secured exclusive U.S. rights to 25 Major League Baseball games, and has lined up seven news-media partners to produce exclusive programs for Watch slated to debut this summer.
“We’ve seen a strong community form around action sports on Facebook, and Nitro Circus is a big reason why,” said Devi Mahadevia, Facebook’s live sports programming lead for North America. She added that Nitro Circus does “an exceptional job” of engaging with fans on Facebook.
Nitro Circus has about 18 million followers on Facebook, including more than 10 million for its main English-language page.
Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. “It’s definitely a significant amount,” said Mike Cowan, chief digital officer for Nitro Circus. “The big thing for us is, we’ve invested heavily in Facebook platform for the last four years. Facebook is a place you can not only watch videos, but form communities and truly engage your fans. It’s where our fans already are.”
Nitro Circus previously had a pact with NBCUniversal’s NBCSN, a deal that ended in 2017 after two years. Compared with TV, Facebook provides a different bucket of benefits, including global reach and interactive features, Cowan said. For example, for the first time, Nitro Circus will incorporate fan voting into its live broadcasts, giving viewers the ability to compare their scores to those of the official judges as well as to vote in polls that will directly affect the live show. “It’s a tight circle of engagement you can’t do on TV,” Cowan said.
The key metrics Nitro Circus is looking for are, obviously, views and watchtime. But, Cowan said, “the big nut we need to crack is repeat viewers – that’s the behavior we are going to try to track, to see if people come back organically.”
Nitro Circus still works with other partners including linear TV networks. For example, A+E Networks’ History will carry the upcoming live broadcast event “Evel Live” on July 8 at 8 p.m. ET.
The Facebook deal encompasses exclusive broadcasts of 14 Nitro World Games events and 14 live look-ins from Nitro Circus’ live tour, featuring BMX, freestyle motocross (FMX), skate, scooter and other sports. Live coverage kicks off Aug. 10 and will run through Nitro Circus’ arena tour in December. It will be available in the U.S. on Facebook Watch and globally via the Nitro Circus Facebook page.
In addition to the live programming, Nitro Circus will also produce two new original series for Facebook.
“Unlocked,” premiering in mid-July, will follow up-and-coming action athletes from around the world as they battle for a spot at the 2018 Nitro World Games. “Unlocked” will feature top athletes mentoring young hopefuls, culminating in competitions to win an invitation to compete in the Nitro World Games. During the “Unlocked” series, fans will be able to participate in live Q&As with the featured athletes and weigh in on who should be selected to compete in the Nitro World Games.
Later in 2018, the company will debut a second original series (currently untitled) focusing on top FMX, BMX, skate, scooter and inline athletes that tour with the Nitro Circus live show, as well as profile hometown heroes, fan-favorite personalities and more. Nitro Circus premiered the behind-the-scenes show “Mic’d Up” on Facebook Watch last September, as part of the platform’s initial rollout, and the series recently returned for its second season.
Nitro Circus will produce all the content for Facebook in-house. The production team is headed by Dave Mateus, global head of events (formerly with Red Bull), while senior VP of media Trip Taylor will lead the media team that will produce both the live event content and the original series.
Co-founded in 2003 by action-sports star Travis Pastrana, Nitro Circus today produces live events that have sold 3 million tickets to date and TV programming that has aired in over 60 countries. The San Clemente, Calif.-based company investors include the Raine Group.