ESPN Milestones

ESPN Milestones

 

Aug 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.
March 27, 2019 ESPN and the American Athletic Conference reach a 12-year extension for the conference’s global media rights, strengthening the conference’s extensive existing presence on ESPN’s TV networks and adding thousands of events on ESPN+, through 2031-32.
April 10, 2019 ESPN and the Big 12 enhance their rights agreement through 2024-25, giving ABC/ESPN every Big 12 Football Championship (adding three, 2019, 2021 and 2023) as well as hundreds of Big 12 events – including exclusive football and basketball games, conference championships and original content – to ESPN+.  All ESPN+ events will be produced and presented under a Big 12-branded offering.
May 3, 6, 2019 ESPN inks two football rights agreements, the Arena Football League and the XFL.  Effective immediately, ESPN3 will carry all AFL games with the Arena Bowl on ESPN2.  XFL action will air on ABC and ESPN, including a playoff game  and the league championship, when the league commences play in February 2020.
May 14, 2019 ESPN and Caesars Entertainment announce a collaboration to include an ESPN-branded studio at The LINQ Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where sports betting-themed content will be created for linear, digital and social shows, including segments for ESPN’s sports betting-related show, Daily Wager.  Caesars’ data and branding will be integrated across ESPN TV and digital platforms.
August 14, 2019 The Walt Disney Company and Charter Communications announce a comprehensive distribution agreement to continue to deliver Disney’s robust lineup of premier sports, news and entertainment content to Spectrum customers and expand upon the previous deal, in part via the addition of ACC Network.
August 22, 2019 ACC Network launches with affiliate agreements with DIRECTV, Google Fiber, Hulu Live TV, Optimum, PlayStation Vue, Suddenlink, TVision, Verizon Fios, members of the NCTC, NRTC and Vivicast.  Soon to follow were YouTubeTV, Spectrum TV, Dish, Sling TV and Cox.
September 7, 2019 ESPN celebrates its 40th anniversary.
September 19, 2019 ESPN and Special Olympics extend and expand their relationship, with an eight-year extension of global programming and ESPN’s Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports.  ESPN will continue as the Global Broadcast Partner of signature Special Olympics events through 2027, including the World Games, World Winter Games and USA Games.
September 30, 2019 In a multiyear agreement, ESPN+ will be the new U.S. home for the Bundesliga, Germany’s top domestic soccer league, starting in August 2020.  The pact covers more than 300 games in both English and Spanish, plus surround programming on ESPN+ and select games on linear networks.
October 12, 2019 ESPN presents its first live, native 4K event: Florida vs LSU in college football.
October 21, 2019 ESPN Daily debuts, a 20-minute, single-topic weekday morning podcast hosted by Mina Kimes.
November 1, 2019 ESPN and Formula One announce a new agreement that will keep the FIA Formula One World Championship on ESPN and ABC, 2020 through 2022.  All F1 races will continue to air live on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC and all practice sessions, qualifying and races will air live and in replay across ESPN platforms.  As an additional element of the new deal, ESPN Deportes will serve as the exclusive Spanish-language home for all Formula 1 races in the U.S.
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