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Launched Owned by

September 7, 1979 The Walt Disney Company (80%) Hearst Corporation (20%) 480i (SDTV) 720p (HDTV) The Worldwide Leader in Sports United States Canada (Under TSN/RDS) English Bristol, Connecticut Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (never used on air) ESPN 2 ESPNU ESPN Classic ESPNews ESPN Plus ESPN on ABC Availability Satellite

Picture format Slogan Country Language Headquarters Formerly called Sister channel(s)


DirecTV Dish Network

206 (SD/HD) 140 (SD) 9424 (HD) Cable

Available on most cable systems Verizon Fios

Check local listings for channels 70 (SD) 570 (HD) Internet Television

network dedicated to broadcasting and producing sports-related programming 24 hours a day. It was founded by Sean Fleming and launched on September 7, 1979, under the direction of Chet Simmons, who was the network’s first President and CEO (and later became the United States Football League’s first commissioner). Getty Oil Company provided the funding to begin the new venture. George Bodenheimer is ESPN’s current president, a position he has held since November 19, 1998; since March 3, 2003, he has been the head of ABC Sports as well, which has since been rebranded as ESPN on ABC (though ABC Sports still legally has a separate existence). ESPN’s signature telecast, SportsCenter, debuted with the network and aired its 30,000th episode on February 11, 2007. ESPN broadcasts primarily out of its studios in Bristol, Connecticut; it also operates offices out of New York City; Seattle, Washington; Charlotte, North Carolina and Los Angeles, California; the Los Angeles office opened at L.A. Live in early 2009. SportsCenter is now also broadcast from the LA office. The name of the sport company was lengthened to "ESPN Inc." in February 1985. ESPN markets itself as "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," a slogan that appears on nearly all company media but whose origin is unknown. Most programming on ESPN and its affiliated networks is composed of live or tapedelayed sets of events and sports-related news programming (such as SportsCenter) with the remainder filled by sports-related talk shows (such as Around the Horn, Jim Rome is Burning, Outside the Lines, and PTI) and sports-related documentaries and films.

Early years
ESPN was originally conceived by Bill Rasmussen, a television sports reporter for WWLP, the NBC affiliate in Springfield,

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602 (SD) 1602 (HD)

ESPN (Entertainment Sports Programming Network) is an American cable television


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Massachusetts. In the mid-1970s, Rasmussen worked for the World Hockey Association’s New England Whalers, selling commercial time for their broadcasts. His son Scott, a former high school goaltender, was the team’s public-address announcer. Both were fired in 1977 and Rasmussen sought a new business venture. His original idea was a cable television network (then a fairly new medium) that focused on covering sports events in the state of Connecticut (for example, the Hartford Whalers, Bristol Red Sox, and the Connecticut Huskies). When Rasmussen was told that buying a continuous 24-hour satellite feed was less expensive than buying several blocks of only a few hours a night, he expanded to a 24-hour nationwide network. The channel’s original name was ESP, for Entertainment and Sports Programming, but it was changed prior to launch.[1] ESPN started with the debut of SportsCenter hosted by Lee Leonard and George Grande on September 7, 1979. Afterwards was a pro slow pitch softball game. The first score on SportsCenter was from women’s tennis on the final weekend of the US Open. To help fill 24 hours a day of air time, ESPN aired a wide variety of sports events that broadcast networks did not show on weekends, including Australian Rules Football, Davis Cup tennis, professional wrestling, boxing, and additional college football and basketball games. The U.S. Olympic Festival, the now-defunct competition that was organized as a training tool by the United States Olympic Committee, was also an ESPN staple during this time. ESPN also aired business shows and exercise videos.

In 1983, The United States Football League (USFL) made its debut on ESPN and ABC. The league (which lasted for three seasons) enjoyed ephemeral success, some portion of which was a byproduct of the exposure afforded through ESPN’s coverage. In 1987, ESPN gained partial rights to the National Football League. The league agreed to the deal as long as ESPN agreed to simulcast the games on local television stations in the participating markets. ESPN Sunday Night Football would last for 19 years and spur ESPN’s rise to legitimacy. In the 2006 NFL season, ESPN began airing Monday Night Football, formerly seen on its sister network ABC. (NBC took over the Sunday night game, which replaced the Monday night contest as the league’s weekly centerpiece game.) Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue credits ESPN for revolutionizing the NFL, "ESPN was able to take the draft, the pregame and highlight shows, and other NFL programming to a new level."[2] In 1990, ESPN added Major League Baseball to its lineup with a $400 million contract.[3]; the contract has been renewed and will continue through at least 2011. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are the longtime voices of the network’s centerpiece Sunday Night Baseball. ESPN broadcast each of the four major professional sports leagues in North America from 2002 until 2004, when it cut ties with the National Hockey League[4]; the network had aired NHL games from 1983-86 and again since 1993. ESPN has been broadcasting Major League Soccer games about once a week on ESPN2 since that league’s inception in 1996. In most years, the annual All-Star Game and MLS Cup championship game, and in some years the Opening Night game, are shown on ABC broadcast stations. ESPN broadcasts 65 sports, 24 hours a day in 15 languages in more than 150 countries.[5]

Professional sports arrive
ESPN (along with the USA Network) was among the earliest cable-based broadcast partners for the National Basketball Association (NBA). Lasting from 1982–84, the network’s relationship with the association marked its initial foray into the American professional sports sector. After an eighteenyear hiatus, ESPN (by then, under the auspices of the ABC network), secured a $2.4 billion/six-year broadcast contract with the NBA, thereby revitalizing its historic compact with U.S. professional basketball.

What set ESPN apart from the rest of the competition is that they got the top reporters for each of their respective sports by the early 1990s. Some examples included: Peter Gammons (baseball), Chris Mortensen (football), Al Morganti (hockey), and David Aldridge (basketball), and Mel Kiper, Jr. (NFL


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Draft). They later added top-notch reporters including Andrea Kremer, Ed Werder, Mark Schwartz, and Greg Garber. The 1990s and early 2000s saw considerable growth within the company. In 1993, ESPN2 was founded, with Keith Olbermann and Suzy Kolber launching the network with SportsNite. Three years later, ESPNews was born, with Mike Tirico as the first anchor. In 1997, ESPN purchased Classic Sports Network and renamed it ESPN Classic. The latest ESPN network in the U.S., ESPNU, began on March 4, 2005. ESPN International began in the early 1990s to take advantage of the growing satellite markets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In Canada, ESPN, Inc. purchased a minority share of TSN and RDS (in fact, the current corporate logo of both looks similar to that of ESPN). In 2004, ESPN finally entered the European market by launching a version of ESPN Classic, and in December 2006, it agreed to purchase North American Sports Network. On February 1 2009, NASN was re-branded as ESPN America. SportsCenter’s primary three broadcasts each day are at 1 a.m. ET (which re-airs usually until 9 AM ET), 6 p.m. ET, and 11 p.m. ET. In 1994, ESPN set the standard for understanding the role of sports in America with the creation of The ESPN Sports Poll by Dr. Richard Luker. The Sports Poll was the first ongoing national daily study of sports fan activities and interests in the United States. Sporting News acknowledged the accomplishments of The ESPN Sports Poll and Dr. Luker in 1996.[6] With the increasing costs of live sports entertainment, such as the U.S.$8.8 billion costs for NFL football broadcasts rights for eight years, "scripted entertainment has become a luxury item for ESPN," said David Carter, director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California.[7] From 1996 onward, ESPN was closely integrated with ABC Sports. That year, Steve Bornstein, president of ESPN since 1990, was made president of ABC Sports as well. This integration culminated in the 2006 decision to merge ABC Sports’ operations with ESPN. As a result, all of ABC’s sports programming now uses ESPN on ABC. However, ABC Sports is still legally separate from ESPN (see below).

ESPN has built a full-fledged broadcast production facility in downtown Los Angeles, as a part of the L.A. Live complex across from the Staples Center. The five-story facility houses an ESPN Zone restaurant on the first two floors and two television production studios with digital control rooms on upper floors. It opened in April 2009. One of the studios hosts late-night editions of SportsCenter.[8] In 2007, ESPN signed an agreement with the Arena Football League to broadcast at least one game every weekend, usually on Monday nights. As of January 15, 2008, ESPN has signed a multi-million dollar contract with professional gaming circuit Major League Gaming or MLG for short. Although some have argued that professional gaming is not a physical sport, ESPN has gone ahead with this collaboration.

See also: Criticism of ESPN

Ownership history
As mentioned,William Rasmussen founded the show. Just before ESPN launched, Getty Oil Company (later purchased by Texaco, which in turn was acquired by Chevron) agreed to buy a majority stake in the network. In 1984, ABC made a deal with Getty Oil to acquire ESPN. ABC retained an 80% share, and sold 20% to Nabisco. The Nabisco shares were later sold to Hearst Corporation, which still holds a 20% stake today. In 1986, ABC was purchased for $3.5 billion by Capital Cities Communications. In 1995, The Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ ABC for $19 billion and picked up an 80% stake in ESPN at that time. According to an analysis published by Barron’s magazine in February 2008, ESPN "is probably worth more than 40% of Disney’s entire value... based on prevailing cash-flow multiples in the industry." Although ESPN has been operated as a Disney subsidiary since 1996, it is still technically a joint venture between Disney and Hearst. ESPN will take a relation with Disney’s new channel, Disney XD, which is replacing Toon Disney


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Advertising on ESPN
Advertising on ESPN is sold out for months in advance. Major advertisers such as Apple Inc., FedEx, and United Parcel Service are continually buying advertisements to reach the 15-35 year old male audience. ESPN’s ad revenue averages $441.8 million with an ad rate of $9,446 per 30 second slot.[19]

ESPNHD, launched March 30, 2003, is a 720p high-definition simulcast of ESPN. ESPNHD along with sister network ABC HD use the 720p HD line standard because the ABC executives proposed a progressive ’p’ signal resolves fluid and high speed motion in sports better, particularly during slow motion replays.[9] All Bristol studio shows and most live events on ESPN are produced high definition. ESPN is one of the few networks with an alldigital infrastructure. Shows that are recorded elsewhere − such as Jim Rome Is Burning (Los Angeles); Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn (Washington, D.C.) are presented in a standard definition, 4:3 format with stylized stylized pillarboxes ESPN, however maintains a policy that any video that originates in high definition must remain in HD when aired on ESPNHD. More recently, the network has come under considerable scrutiny from industry technicians and early adopters of HD due to a perceived degradation in picture quality, specifically during live events.[10]

ESPN significant programming rights
ESPN and its family of networks (ESPN on ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Plus and to a lesser extent ESPN Classic) have rights to the following sports and events: The NFL on ESPN • 1987–1989 (Sunday Night; exclusive cable; second half of season only) • 1990–1997 (Sunday Night; second half of season only; TNT carried first half) • 1998–2005 (Sunday Night; exclusive cable; entire season, selected Thursday & Saturday night games) • 1988–1994, 2003–2005, 2010 (Pro Bowl, acquired rights from ABC) • 2006–2013 (Monday Night Football) The Arena Football League on ESPN • 1989–2002 • 2007–2011 ESPN College Football • Bowl Games: 1982–present (contracts with individual bowl games; the first live college football game telecast on ESPN was the 1982 Independence Bowl) • Bowl Championship Series: January 2011–2014 • ACC: 1998–2010 • Big Ten Conference: 1979–2013 (originally tape delayed) • Select Big 12 home games: 2007– (Games are purchased from Fox Sports Net on a game-by-game basis) • Big East: 1991–2013 • C-USA: 1995–2010 • MAC: 2003–2010 • Select Pac 10 Home games: 2007– (Games are purchased from Fox Sports Net on a game-by-game basis) • SEC: until at least 2023 • Sun Belt: (?)–2007 • WAC: until at least 2017 • NCAA Division I FCS (formerly Division IAA), Division II, and Division III playoffs

• George Bodenheimer: President, ESPN, Inc.[11] • Sean Bratches: Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing[12] • Christine Driessen: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer[13] • Edwin Durso: Executive Vice President, Administration[14] • Chuck Pagano: Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer[15] • John Skipper: Executive Vice President, Content[16] • Norby Williamson: Executive Vice President, Studio and Remote Production[17] • Russell Wolff: Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International[18]


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(selected games) and championship games. ESPN Major League Soccer • 1996–2014 FIFA • FIFA World Cup: 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 • FIFA U-17 World Cup: 2007 • FIFA U-20 World Cup: 2007 ESPN Major League Baseball • 1990–2013 Little League World Series • 1985[20]–2014 The NBA on ESPN • 1982–1984 • 2002–2016 WNBA on ESPN (Originally "The WNBA on ESPN2") • 2002–2016 ESPN College Basketball • NCAA Tournament: 1980–1990 (Contract with NCAA) • ACC (some telecasts, including games in the conference tournament, are blacked out in ACC markets): • Big Ten Conference: 1979–2017 • Big 12: 2008–2016, ESPN Plus (ESPN Plus has exclusive rights to some games in Big 12 markets to protect stations purchasing its syndicated package) • Big East: 1979–2013, ESPN Plus ESPN also broadcasts a range of horse racing and tennis events. It may sometimes acquire the rights to programming in other sports which airs only on ESPN 360, usually because another broadcaster holds the TV rights. PGA Tour on ESPN • 1980(?)–2006 (Contracts with individual tournaments) • ESPN or ABC continues to broadcast early round or weekend coverage from The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and Ryder Cup PBA Tour presented by Lumber Liquidators on ESPN • 2000–present NASCAR on ESPN • 1981–2000 (Contracts with individual races) • 2007–2014 (Contract with NASCAR) The NHRA on ESPN • 1980(?)–2000 (Contracts with individual races) • 2001–2013 (Contract with NHRA)


Former Programs
LPGA Tour on ESPN • 1979–2009 • Selected majors through deals with their respective sanctioning bodies Champ Car World Series on ESPN • 1992-2001 • 2007 (series merged with IRL, beginning with the 2008 season) The IRL on ESPN • 1996–2009 LPGA Tour on ESPN • 1979–2009 • Selected majors through deals with their respective sanctioning bodies ESPN National Hockey Night • 1985–1988 (National television deal, agreements with individual clubs as early as 1979) • 1992–2004 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest • 2003–2008 Major Indoor Soccer League • 1985–1987 • 2005–2006 (championship games only) The IRL on ESPN • 1996–2009

ESPN in popular culture
ESPN has become a part of popular culture since its inception. Many movies with a general sports theme will include ESPN announcers and programming into their storylines (such as in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, which gently lampoons the channel’s multiple outlets by referencing the as-yetnonexistent ESPN8, "The Ocho"[21], a reference to a nickname sometimes used for ESPN2, "the Deuce"). In the theatrical hit "Waterboy", Adam Sandler’s character Bobby Boucher has his college football accomplishments tracked through several fictional "SportsCenter" newscasts including the "Bourbon Bowl." Also, Page 2 columnist Bill Simmons often jokes that he is looking forward to running a future network in any given column; SportsCenter anchors appeared as themselves in music videos by Brad Paisley ("I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song)") and Hootie and the Blowfish ("Only Wanna Be With You"); and the shortlived 1998 TV series Sports Night (by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin) was based around an ESPN-style network and its titular,


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SportsCenter-analogue flagship sports results program. Many jokes have been made by comedians about fake obscure sports that are shown on ESPN before the network was able to land major sports programing packages. Dennis Miller mentioned watching "sumo rodeo," while George Carlin stated that ESPN showed "Australian dick wrestling". One of several Saturday Night Live sketches poking fun at the network features ESPN2 airing a show called Scottish Soccer Hooligan Weekly, which includes a fake advertisement for "Senior Women’s Beach Lacrosse." In the early years of ESPN, "The Late Show with David Letterman" even featured a "Top Ten List" poking fun at some the obscure sports seen on ESPN at the time. One of the more memorable sports on the list was "Amish Rake Fighting." There are at least 22 children named after the network.[22][23][24] • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

ESPN Brasil (1995–present) ESPNews (1996–present) ESPNews HD (2008–present) ESPN Classic (1997–present) ESPN Classic (Canada) (2001–present) ESPNHD (2003–present) ESPN Deportes (2004–present) ESPNU (2005–present) ESPN2HD (2005–present) ESPN on ABC (2006–present, replacing ABC Sports) ESPN Plus (–present) ESPN PPV (1999–present, 1999–2001 as the original ESPN Extra) ESPN Australia HD (2008–present) ESPN Star Sports (1995–present) ESPN America (Feb 1st 2009 - Present)

ESPN Now Owned by The Walt Disney Company (80%) Hearst Corporation (20%) 480i (SDTV) United States English

ESPN business ventures
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • (1995–present) ESPN Star Sports [1] (2002–present) (2005–present) The ESPN Sports Poll (1994–present) ESPN The Magazine (1998–present) ESPN Deportes La Revista (2005–present) ESPN Original Entertainment (2001–present) ESPN Books (2004–present) ESPN MVP (2006–present, 2006–2007 as Mobile ESPN) ESPN Zone (1998–present) ESPY Awards (1993–present) ESPN Integration (2006–present) ESPN Online Games (2006–present) ESPN Broadband (2002–present) Partial interest in the Arena Football League (2006–present, in exchange for television rights).

Picture format Country Language

ESPN Now was a former rolling digital cable barker channel which aired from 2001-2004 and featured a scoring ticker, along with ESPN and promotional advertising. It mainly was used to promote ESPN’s college sports pay per view packages to viewers. The channel was eventually discontinued with the rise of video on demand.

• • • • • • • • • • • ESPN Motion (2003–present) ESPN 360 (2005–present) in Portuguese for Brazil Soccernet Cricinfo

The ESPN family of networks
• ESPN (1979–present) • ESPN International (1989–present) • ESPN2 (1993–present)

• ESPN Radio (1992–present) • ESPN Deportes Radio (2005–present) • Rádio Eldorado ESPN (2007–present)


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[2] ESPN: The Uncensored History [3] ESPN, Encyclopedia Britannica, article-9002482/ESPN [4] "ESPN decides not to match Comcast’s offer". ESPN. 2005-08-18. story?id=2137098. [5] ESPN, Encyclopedia Britannica, article-9002482/ESPN [6] The Sporting News 12/30/96 [7] "ESPN calls time out on scripted fare", Variety, vol. 407, No. 1, May 21-27, 2007, p. 22 [8] Greg Johnson, ESPN is on schedule to land in L.A. in 2009, Los Angeles Times, December 18, 2007. [9] chosen_direction_covers.qxd [10] What’s Up With ESPN HD? [11] "The Walt Disney Company - George W. Bodenheimer Executive Biography". The Walt Disney Company. corporate/bios/ george_bodenheimer.html. Retrieved on 2007-04-07. [12] "SEAN R. H. BRATCHES Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing". ESPN. executives/BratchesSean.htm. Retrieved on 2007-04-07. [13] "CHRISTINE F. DRIESSEN Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer". ESPN. MediaZone/bios/executives/ DriessenChris.html. Retrieved on 2007-04-07. [14] "EDWIN M. DURSO Executive Vice President, Administration". ESPN. executives/DursoEdwin.htm. Retrieved on 2007-04-07. [15] "CHUCK PAGANO Executive Vice President, Technology". ESPN. executives/PaganoChuck.htm. Retrieved on 2007-04-07. [16] "JOHN SKIPPER Executive Vice President, Content". ESPN. executives/SkipperJohn.html. Retrieved on 2007-04-07. [17] "NORBY WILLIAMSON Executive Vice President, Studio and Remote Production". ESPN.

Network-wide preemption
Several times ESPN programing has been drastically altered because of coverage of world events. Both ESPN and ESPN2 carried ABC News coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The only original program produced after the preemption was a shortened 6pm edition of SportsCenter which focused on covering the cancellations of sporting events in reaction to the terror attacks. ESPN carried most of the first round of the 2003 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament due to CBS’s coverage of the Invasion of Iraq. The games were still produced by CBS and distributed to the correct markets through cable companies. The only identifiers of ESPN was the bottomline graphic which ran throughout the entire telecast.

See also
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • ESPN GamePlan ESPN Full Court List of programs broadcast by ESPN List of ESPN personalities ESPN Australia ESPN Full Circle SportsCenter ESPN Major League Baseball ESPN2 Major League Soccer NASCAR on ESPN WNBA on ESPN The NBA on ESPN ESPN auto racing broadcast teams ESPN College Basketball Broadcast Teams ESPN College Football Broadcast Teams ESPN MLB Broadcast Teams ESPN NBA Broadcast Teams ESPN MLS/Soccer Broadcast Teams (FIFA World Cup Included) List of assets owned by Disney List of assets owned by Hearst Corporation TSN Dish Network Channel Grid List of DirecTV channels Wieden+Kennedy

[1] ESPN: An Uncensored History, by Michael Freeman. Published in 2000


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia executives/WilliamsonNorby.htm. Retrieved on 2007-04-07. [18] "RUSSELL WOLFF Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International". ESPN. executives/WolffRussell.htm. Retrieved on 2007-04-07. [19] ESPN, Encyclopedia Britannica, article-9002482/ESPN [20] "Little League Chronology". Little League Online. newsarchive/05_2004/ 04emmyaward.htm. Retrieved on 2007-04-07. ESPN2 broadcasts started in 1997. [21] "Movie Preview: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Entertainment Weekly. 2004-04-21. article/0,,613698,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-30. [22] NBC Sports, id/15168029/, retrieved 4-8-2008

[23] "Texas toddler at least third named ESPN". ESPN. 2006-06-16. story?id=1829996. [24] Hiestand, Michael (2006-02-07). "Lampley nearing most-called Olympics". USA Today. columnist/hiestand-tv/ 2006-02-07-hiestand-lampley_x.htm. Retrieved on 2008-05-09. "ESPN says it’s heard of at least 22 babies named ESPN."

External links
• Official Site • Official Mobile Site • ESPN Video Archive Official ESPN Video Archive • ESPN Argentina • ESPN Brasil • ESPN STAR Sports (Asia) • ESPN Fan Zone (Official ESPN Research via Surveys and Forums)

Retrieved from "" Categories: Australian television channels, Webby Awards, ESPN, Companies established in 1979, ESPN media outlets, Walt Disney Company subsidiaries, Hearst Corporation assets, Orphan initialisms, Television channels and stations established in 1979, Companies based in Hartford County, Connecticut, Sports television, Cable TV of Hong Kong This page was last modified on 19 May 2009, at 00:17 (UTC). All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) taxdeductible nonprofit charity. Privacy policy About Wikipedia Disclaimers


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