ESPN, Inc.: 1982 in Review

AnnouncementsYear in Review

ESPN, Inc.: 1982 in Review

ESPN, America’s largest exclusively satellite-delivered network, reached new milestones and experienced unprecedented success on several fronts during 1982.  A summary of the year’s highlights follows.

January………–ESPN signs two-year agreement with the NBA to televise 40 regular-season and 10 playoff games live each season.

February…….–ESPN’s Greg Gumbel named cable’s “Outstanding Sports Personality” by the readers of On Cable magazine.

–ESPN, Mizlou enter agreement for the simultaneous telecasting of several major sporting events, including six bowl games in December.

March…………–ESPN tops 15 million subscriber homes nationwide.

April……………–ESPN, Top Rank, Inc., announce two-year extension of agreement to present weekly Thursday night boxing cards.

May……………–ESPN, METROSPORTS sign exclusive cable agreement for major college football and basketball events, including Notre Dame football and basketball, Big Ten basketball, and the Aloha and Liberty Bowl games.

June…………..–ESPN acquires exclusive cable rights to Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball for three years from Raycom/Jefferson Productions.

–J. William Grimes succeeds Chester R. Simmons as ESPN President & Chief Executive Officer.  Scotty Connal named Executive Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer in executive realignment.

–ESPN awarded exclusive national cable rights for two years to the new United States Football League (USFL), debuting in 1983.

–ESPN presents first of seven World Cup soccer games from Spain.

July……………–ESPN presents longest telecast in its history with 9 1/2-hour live coverage of concluding day of Davis Cup quarterfinals between the U.S. and Sweden from St. Louis.

September….–ESPN celebrates third anniversary on September 7, 1982.

Network adds 713,659 new subscriber homes, second-largest monthly increase in ESPN history.

–ESPN boxing coverage expands with addition of “Saturday Night at the Fights,” new weekly fall boxing series.

October………–A.C. Nielsen Co. begins metered measurement of ESPN, to produce quarterly reports with most comprehensive audience analysis in television.  First report available in early 1983.

–ESPN acquires rights to 24 NCAA championships each of next two years, including games from the National Collegiate Basketball Championship and exclusive coverage of the College World Series.

–Network launches the “Watch and Win Sweepstakes of Champions” as part of enhanced consumer marketing effort.

November…..–ESPN wins ACE Award (Excellence in a Single Program, Sports Event Coverage) for “1981 Davis Cup Finals — Doubles Match:  McEnroe/Fleming vs. Clerc/Vilas.”

–Survey of cable operators in View magazine finds ESPN the most popular basic cable programming service.

December…..–ESPN banner programming month features 8 college bowl games and more of “the greatest college basketball schedule ever.”

–ESPN’s “Down the Stretch” wins Eclipse Award in national television category for coverage of horse racing.

Tennis magazine readers’ poll cites ESPN as the best network for tennis, Cliff Drysdale as favorite announcer and ESPN coverage of Davis Cup Quarterfinals as top tennis telecast of the year over all other networks.

–ESPN closes 1982 with more than 20 million subscriber homes, 5,000 affiliates, and 250 national advertisers, having once again doubled its advertising revenue over the previous year.


Dave Nagle

As I write this on 11-11-21, it's now 35 years for me at ESPN, the only real job I’ve ever had. I joined merely to help with the upcoming America’s Cup in Australia. I was told it would be for three months at all of $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville, Darlington, Indy and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals, Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, my main areas are tennis, UFC, boxing, network-wide ratings (by month/quarter/year), and corporate communications documents, including fact sheets, chronologies, lists and nearly 35 of the Year in Review press releases. UPDATE EXACTLY ONE YEAR LATER: Today, November 11, 2022, I am retiring from ESPN -- 36 years to the day I began. As I ride off into the sunset – top down and E Street Radio blaring – I do so with so many wonderful memories, proud of my contributions and a heart full of gratitude for the opportunity. 
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