- ESPN, Inc. is the leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment entity featuring the broadest portfolio of multimedia sports assets with over 50 business entities.
- Based in Bristol, Conn., with approximately 4,000 employees (more than 6,500 worldwide) ESPN Plaza includes nearly 1.2 million square feet in 18 buildings on 123 acres (additional 500,000 sq. ft. rented nearby).
- ESPN launched on September 7, 1979, and is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Hearst holds a 20 percent interest. ESPN was originally conceived in 1978 and office space was rented in Plainville, Conn., before the Bristol property was purchased and developed.
- In the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2018, ESPN presented 23,542 live events and 64,056 total live hours of studio and event programming – TV and digital combined .
- ESPN’s 2018 in review
- Jimmy Pitaro was named ESPN’s eighth president in March 2018.
|PRIMARY BUSINESS ENTITIES|
|U.S. Television Networks||ESPN on ABC (Broadcast), nine U.S. Cable Networks (five with high-definition simulcast services)|
|Direct to Consumer||ESPN+, launched April 2018, with thousands of live events, original programs and on-demand content|
|Audio||ESPN Radio Network, owned and operated stations in three major markets, podcasts and ESPN Deportes Radio|
|Digital||ESPN.com; ESPN3; ESPN Fantasy Sports; espnW, ESPNDeportes.com; TheUndefeated.com; market-, college- and sport-specific sites; and more|
|International||Reaching 61 countries and territories across all seven continents, businesses include TV (26 networks and syndication), radio, print, digital, consumer products, and event management|
|Event Management||X Games, ESPYs, college bowls & basketball events|
- ESPN on ABC (Broadcast)
- Nine Domestic Cable Networks: ESPN (launched in 1979, ESPN HD launched in 2003); ESPN2 (1993, ESPN2 HD launched in 2005); ESPNEWS (1996, ESPNEWS HD in 2008); ESPNU (2005, ESPNU HD in 2008); ESPN Classic (purchased in 1997); Spanish-language ESPN Deportes (2004, ESPN Deportes HD in 2011), the regionally focused Longhorn Network (2011), the SEC Network (August 2014) and the ACC Network (August 2019).
Key U.S. Programming
- SportsCenter — Debuting on ESPN’s launch day (September 7, 1979), ESPN’s first and flagship show defines the sports news genre. It offers breaking news, highlights, features and in-depth analysis from award-winning journalists. Viewership: averages up to 115 million viewers a month.
- NFL’s Monday Night Football; MLB; NBA (The Finals on ABC); college football including the College Football Playoff; men’s and women’s college basketball, including the women’s NCAA Tournament; tennis’ Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open, all start to finish; The Masters; WNBA; Little League World Series; more.
- Daily and weekly sport-specific studio shows for NFL, MLB, NBA and college football and basketball.
- Critically acclaimed and award-winning documentaries and original programming including the “30 for 30” films.
ESPN Plaza & Other Production Facilities
- ESPN Headquarters in Bristol, Conn., is home to one of the world’s largest and technologically advanced TV production facilities. Digital Center-1 (2004) and Digital Center-2 (2014) total more than 400,000 square feet. They serve as home for SportsCenter, NFL programming and more. Overall, ESPN Plaza is home to 19 buildings on 120 acres and 1.3 million square feet of office/production space.
- ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center (LAPC) went online in 2009 in the LA LIVE entertainment/retail complex. The 129,000-square foot facility has two studios and produces programming for ESPN’s U.S. networks, including the late-night SportsCenter, SportsNation, NBA Countdown (control room) and select ESPN Deportes shows.
- In April 2018, a new facility at New York’s South Street Seaport overlooking the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge went online. With two studios (connected to control rooms at other locations), it is home to the new weekday Get Up!, First Take, NBA Countdown and more (TV, radio, podcasts). The 21,000-square-foot space is supplemented by a huge rooftop platform that can accommodate a public audience.
- ESPN added a facility in Charlotte, N.C., in 1999 which totals 38,000 square feet with three studios. As the home of the SEC Network, programming produced there includes The Paul Finebaum Show, SEC Now and SEC Featured.
- In addition to Austin, Texas, home of the Longhorn Network, facilities are in Miami, Orlando and Washington, D.C.
Launched April 2018, ESPN+ is the multi-sport, direct-to-consumer video service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment and ESPN. It reached 2 million subscribers in less than a year and offers fans thousands of live events, on-demand content and original programming not available on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks, along with premium editorial content.
Programming on ESPN+ includes hundreds of MLB and NHL games, exclusive UFC, Top Rank boxing and PFL fights and events, top domestic and international soccer, thousands of college sports events (including football, basketball and other sports), Grand Slam tennis, international and domestic rugby and cricket, new and exclusive series, acclaimed studio shows and the full library of ESPN’s award-winning 30 for 30 films. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and can cancel at any time.
ESPN+ is available as an integrated part of the ESPN App (on mobile and connected devices) and ESPN.com. They are the industry-leading all-in-one digital sports platform, delivering a rich, personalized experience to tens of millions of fans every month.
ESPN Audio is comprised of ESPN Radio, the county’s largest sports radio network; owned and operated stations in New York and Los Angeles; ESPN Podcasts and ESPN Deportes Radio.
- ESPN Radio, which launched January 1, 1992, provides 9,000 hours of talk and event content annually, reaching 32 million listeners a week on 600 stations. ESPN Radio programming is also available on Sirius XM, via digital distributors Apple Music and Tune In and on ESPNRadio.com. In addition to popular sports talk shows such as Golic and Wingo which are simulcast on TV, event programming includes NFL, NBA, MLB and college football and basketball.
- ESPN Audio launched its first podcast in 2005 and is a leader in the sports genre. Offerings focus on “sports passions” (NFL, NBA, MLB, etc.), storytelling (“30 for 30”) and compelling personalities. The most popular titles include Fantasy Focus Football, The Lowe Post as well as podcasts of Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, and TV’s First Take, Pardon the Interruption and Around The Horn.
ESPN’s Digital properties include ESPN.com, launched in 1995 and the world’s leading online sports service; the ESPN App, ESPN3, and ESPN Fantasy Sports (the No. 1 fantasy football game) and Interactive Games.
- Other sites: espnW, TheUndefeated.com, ESPNDeportes.com, ESPNFC.com, ESPNCricinfo.com, ESPNScrum.com, XGames.com, ESPNF1.com, SECSports.com and a variety of college-, and market-specific sites.
ESPN International reaches sports fans in 61 countries and territories across all seven continents. Business entities include TV (27 networks and syndication), radio, print, digital, consumer products and event management.
- In addition to marquee U.S. (NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, IRL, all of golf’s and tennis’ Grand Slam events) and major international (UEFA Champions League and other top soccer, cricket and more) sports, there are 11 local versions of SportsCenter in three languages — Spanish, Portuguese, and English.
- Offices or production facilities include Amsterdam, Bangalore, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, London, Mexico City, Miami, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, São Paulo, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto and Bristol, Conn.
- ESPYs (launched in 1993), X Games (1995), Winter X Games (1997)
- ESPN Events owns and operates more than 30 events, highlighted by 14 college bowl games and 11 college basketball events.
ESPN Consumer Products offer fans high quality collections inspired by compelling content, unique marketing campaigns and ESPN’s trademark personality at a variety of retail channels. Categories include branded and co-branded apparel and accessories, sporting goods, and indoor/outdoor recreation. X Games event merchandise is available on-site and online as well as bikes, skateboards, scooters and arcade games that celebrate the best in action sports.
- In Orlando, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is a leading multi-sport venue for amateur and pro sports, hosting 100 events yearly, several of which are presented on ESPN platforms.
- Also in Orlando, the ESPN Club is on The Boardwalk at Walt Disney World.
ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use power of sport to positively address society’s needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets.
|August 16, 1978||Around-the-clock sports network via satellite is conceived by Bill Rasmussen and his son, Scott.|
|August 17, 1978||Property in Bristol, Conn., recommended and plans for construction of base of operations devised.|
|February 22, 1979||Getty Oil Company agrees in principle to purchase 85 percent of ESPN.|
|March 1, 1979||NCAA grants ESPN exclusive rights to televise athletic events, both live and on a delayed basis.|
|March 21, 1979||United Cable TV is the first multiple system operator to sign an affiliate agreement with ESPN.|
|May 20, 1979||Anheuser-Busch signs advertising contract with ESPN, at $1.4M, the largest single buy in cable television history.|
|September 7, 1979||ESPN launches at 7 p.m. ET.|
|September 14, 1979||Prominent sports announcer Jim Simpson joins ESPN from NBC, providing instant credibility.|
|December 19, 1979||ESPN televises its first NHL game, Washington at Hartford.|
|Spring 1980||Programming such as Australian Rules Football, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Opening Round and the NFL Draft provide national media exposure.|
|April 1983||ESPN begins distributing programming internationally.|
|April 30, 1984||ABC completes acquisition of ESPN from Getty. Later, 20% is sold to Nabisco and later to Hearst.|
|January 1987||ESPN airs the America’s Cup live from Australia; overwhelming response proves impact of cable.|
|March 15, 1987||ESPN awarded NFL’s first cable contract; begins fall ‘87.|
|January 5, 1989||ESPN and Major League Baseball reach a four-year agreement to begin in 1990.|
|March 31, 1989||ESPN International launches its first network, ESPN in Latin America.|
|November 8, 1990||The Hearst Corporation purchases RJR/Nabisco’s 20% share in ESPN.|
|January 1, 1992||ESPN Radio launches.|
|March 4, 1993||The first-ever ESPY Awards and the birth of The V Foundation.|
|October 1, 1993||ESPN2 launches in 10 million homes.|
|May 9, 1994||ESPN acquires Creative Sports (later combined with OCC, purchased in 1993, to form ESPN Regional Television).|
|April 1, 1995||ESPNET SportsZone (now ESPN.com) launches.|
|June 24 – July 1||The inaugural Extreme Games (later called X Games) are held in Rhode Island. In 1997, the Winter X Games debut.|
|February 9, 1996||The Walt Disney Company completes acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. (which owns ESPN).|
|November 1, 1996||ESPNEWS launches.|
|October 9, 1997||ESPN, Inc. acquires Classic Sports Network (now ESPN Classic).|
|March 11, 1998||ESPN The Magazine launches.|
|August 2001||ESPN Broadband launches, a video service via a high-speed modem, offering a library of programming. Would become ESPN360.com in 2005.|
|January 22, 2002||ESPN reaches agreement for multimedia NBA coverage, becoming the first network to televise all four major professional sports-NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA.|
|January 7, 2004||ESPN Deportes, a 24-hour, Spanish language sports network, launches.|
|June 7, 2004||ESPN’s state-of-the-art Digital Center opens.|
|March 4, 2005||ESPNU, a 24-hour network devoted to college sports, launches.|
|September 1, 2007||ESPN360.com relaunches as the online home of live sporting events, offering more than 2500 in 12 months. The name becomes ESPN3.com in 2010 and ESPN3 in 2011.|
|April 6, 2009||The Los Angeles Production Center debuts as the home of the weekday 1 a.m. ET SportsCenter and more. The 129,000-square-foot facility has two studios.|
|October 6, 2009||The critically acclaimed “30 for 30” documentary series debuts with “Kings Ransom.”|
|October 9, 2009||ESPN The Magazine’s first annual “Body Issue” goes on sale as a celebration of athletes of diverse shapes, sizes, genders and races within ESPN’s boundaries of taste, and frontiers of creativity.|
|February 25, 2010||ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is officially the new name of the re-imagined sports facilities at Walt Disney World, which originally opened in 1997.|
|September 30, 2010||espnW is announced to launch Spring 2011 (later moved to Dec. 6) – primarily a digital product suite including pc web, mobile web, mobile applications and social media to serve, inspire and inform the female athlete and fan.|
|April 7, 2011||WatchESPN App for iPad, iPhone and iPod launches, allowing mobile access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.com for subscribers to Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Verizon FiOS, the first live, streaming cable channels available in the U.S. on mobile devices.|
|August 26, 2011||Longhorn Network launches.|
|June 22, 2014||SportsCenter marks the opening of the 194,000-square-foot Digital Center 2 with five studios, home also to NFL programming, Outside the Lines and more.|
|August 14, 2014||SEC Network launches in more than 60 million homes, including nine of the top 10 distributors, and a schedule of more than 1,000 live events in the first year including 45 football games, more than 100 men’s and 60 women’s basketball games, and 75 baseball games with hundreds more online.|
|January 1, 2015||ESPN celebrates the New Year with its most-viewed day ever (a 6.5 rating); buoyed by College GameDay, the Cotton Bowl Classic, The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl; ESPN averaged 11,680,000 viewers. The Sugar and Rose Bowls rank as cable’s biggest two audiences in history.
The Outback Bowl is ESPN2’s biggest audience ever, an average of 6,400,000 viewers, based on a record 3.8 rating for Wisconsin’s overtime victory over Auburn.
|January 12, 2015||The first-ever College Football Playoff Championship – Ohio State 42-20 over Oregon – is the largest audience and highest rating in cable television history – an average of 33,395,000 viewers, based on an 18.2 rating.|
|May 17, 2016||The Undefeated – the digital content platform exploring the intersection of sports, race and culture – launches. It combines innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain African Americans, as well as sports fans seeking a deeper understanding of black athletes, culture and related issues.|
|July 11-18, 2016||ESPN Films’ most ambitious project to date — “O.J.: Made in America” – receives universal acclaim. The 7.5-hour documentary from Peabody and Emmy-award winning director Ezra Edelman depicts a defining cultural tale of modern America – a saga of race, celebrity, media, violence and the criminal justice system. Almost a quarter of U.S. TV households tuned in across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 (41.3 million people). Success on non-traditional platforms include more than 5.3 million downloads within 30 days on cable VOD (more than triple the transactions the entire ESPN VOD channel had ever delivered in any previous month), and 1.3 million unique devices consuming some portion on WatchESPN generating 234.1 million minutes.|
|July 21, 2016||ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference announce the ACC Network – a comprehensive linear and digital service – will debut in August with ACC Network Extra on WatchESPN. The linear TV network will launch in 2019. The 20-year partnership also provides for the extension of the conference’s existing rights agreement with ESPN to 2036.|
|February 26, 2017||ESPN wins its first Oscar, in Best Documentary for OJ- Made in America. The 7.5-hour epic is the longest movie ever honored at the Academy Awards.|
|March 5, 2018||Jimmy Pitaro is named President of ESPN. Chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media since 2016, he is ESPN’s eighth chief executive.|
|April 2, 2018||A multimedia studio debuts at New York’s South Street Seaport. The 21,000-square-foot space has two studios (connected to control rooms at other locations), and is home to the new weekday Get Up! and, in time, FirstTake and more (TV, radio, podcasts).|
|April 12, 2018||ESPN+ launches within the redesigned and enhanced ESPN App. ESPN+, with thousands of live events annually, plus original programming and an on-demand library including the “30 for 30” library, is the company’s first direct-to-consumer streaming service.|
|May 23, 2018||UFC, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN announce ESPN-branded media platforms starting in 2019 will be the exclusive digital and television home of the UFC in the U.S. with 42 live events annually. Thirty will feature a full card of 12 bouts. This expands the rights to UFC on ESPN+ revealed earlier this month.|
|November 30, 2018||ESPN and the ACC announce the ACC Network will launch August 22, 2019. The 24/7 network is poised to air 1,300 live events annually across its TV and digital offerings from around the conference’s 15 member schools and 27 sponsored sports.|
|January 19, 2019||The first UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ – with prelims both on ESPN+ and ESPN and the main event on ESPN+ – airs from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., kicking off a new five-year rights agreement and spurring 568,000 new subscriptions to ESPN+ in the two days leading up to the fight.|
|February 5, 2019||ESPN+ now has two million subscribers, double the amount of five months ago.|