In July 1978, Bill Rasmussen, the founder of E.S.P.N leased space on an RCA satellite. After creating the company he called it Entertainment Sports Programming Network; E.S.P.N. The first televised event on ESPN was a slow pitch softball game between the Milwaukee Schlitzes and the Kentucky Bourbons. The first sponsor relationship was with Anheuser-Busch, which bought a record amount of advertising for cable television, 1.4 million dollars.
On September 7th, 1979, George Grande and Lee Leonard hosted the first airing of Sportscenter on ESPN. Sportscenter was created by John. A. Walsh, an executive director at ESPN. Sportscenter helped ESPN to dominate the sports broadcasting and news industry as ESPN now could provide live events for its viewers, along with a new program that provided breaking news alerts and highlights and scores from recent games.
ESPN Begins Broadcasting 24/7
Rasmussen discovered that it would be cheaper to rent 24 hours worth of satelite time as opposed to a few hours a day. He then decided to broadcast 24 hour sports programming on ESPN nationally. ESPN partnered with 625 cable system affiliates and began reaching more than one million of about 20 million households with cable. They also began airing more things like boxing, slow-pitch softball, kick boxing, racquetball, volleyball, karate, Irish hurling, and tractor pulls to fill more airtime.
ABC Aquires ESPN
In January 1984, ABC acquired 15 percent of ESPN for $25 million, with the right to purchase more in the future. ABC then paid $202 million to Texaco, ESPN’s majority owner, in April 1984 to buy the remaining shares of ESPN. ABC then sold 20 percent to Nabisco to raise more money. This allowed ESPN to reach a broader audience and show a larger variety of events to veiwers and fans.
ESPN Begins Showing NFL Games
ESPN launches Sunday Night Football. ESPN got the rights to air NFL games as long as local channels could also show the games. They started out only being able to show games during the second half of the season, but eventually would be able to show more games. They could now show NFL games aswell as other various sports and events and get more football fans to see the games they wanted to see. This move made a name for ESPN and changed the way the NFL was able to show their games to fans.
ESPN and the MLB
On January 5, 1989, Major League Baseball signed a $400 million deal with ESPN, who would show over 175 games beginning in 1990. ESPN's MLB coverage debuted on April 9, 1990 with three opening day telecasts. In addition to regular season games, ESPN also airs 10 spring training games entitled ESPN Spring Training and formerly aired Division Series playoff games entitled The Division Series on ESPN.
ESPN Radio is an American sports radio network. It was launched on January 1, 1992 under the original banner of "SportsRadio ESPN. ESPN Radio and its spanish counterpart ESPN Deportes Radio is broadcast to hundreds of affiliate stations ,as well as to subscribers of Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio in the United States and Canada.
Disney Purchases ABC/ ESPN
In 1996, The Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion and picked up the 80% stake that ABC owned in ESPN at that time. ESPN and ABC Sports soon merged together, further improving the already dominant ESPN brand.
Espn Purchases Classic Sports Network
ESPN gained another cable sports network in September 1997 with the purchase of the Classic Sports Network (CSN), an independently owned cable service that broadcast classic sporting events from the past. ESPN was now able to show past footage and give die hard fans a chance to see classic games.
ESPN The Magazine Launches
ESPN: The Magazine launches. It is ESPN's first venture into print. Sent out to 350,000 households, The Mag offered a new spin on sports for the younger male, rivaling Sports Illustrated for the top spot in magazines.
On May 1st, 2002 ESPN broadened its enterprise even farther by beginning one of its units ESPN Broadband. This enhancement provided sports fans all over the world content using high speed internet connection. It started by allowing users to watch sporting event, ESPN documentaries, and Sportscenter the television show. This allowed watchers to choose custom content and not just what was playing on TV.
On March 30, 2003 ESPN opened ESPN HD, it is a 720p high definition simulcast of ESPN, with the opening game of Major League Baseball. Now all HD watchers could fully enjoy all their ESPN viewing to their maximum potential. Along with ESPN HD came sister networks such as ESPN2 HD, ESPNU HD, ABC HD, Disney Channel HD, ABC Family HD, and Disney XD HD. These reached out to all different consumer types.
ESPN Books is a publishing company operated by ESPN and was successfully launched in January 2004. They carried on the proud tradition of sports excellence by offering a premiere selection of sports titles. The books greatly range in topic from the major sports of baseball, basketball, and football to horse racing, poker, and much more. You can find books on different sports personalities and teams or different genres like facts and statistics or humor.
Early in 2005, ESPN launched ESPN360, a 24 hour- 7 day a week broadband sports network. The name was changed in 2010 to ESPN3. Sean Bratches, the executive vice president of sales and marketing said the name change took place because “ESPN3.com more closely aligned with the existing naming convention for our networks.” The site streams many live sports and was made free to students on college campuses as well as US military bases. ESPN now provides live TV, Radio, and Internet services.
ESPN Annouces ESPN Xtra
ESPN Xtra is a satellite radio station that combines the existing audio simulcast of ESPNEWS programs with sports talk programming. It was created in 2008 to further advance ESPN’s already successful radio business. This creation is important for ESPN and the sports society because it makes ESPN the flagship network for sports even better rounded.