ESPN, Inc.: 1986 in Review
PROGRAMMING PROGRESS MARKS ESPN YEAR
ESPN, in its seventh year, took “further strides in providing the nation’s sports fans the broadest and most in-depth coverage of sports on television,” according to J. William Grimes, ESPN president and chief executive officer.
In addition to a strengthened programming schedule, ESPN experienced steady growth in advertising sales and in the number of its affiliates and subscribers, adding more than two million homes. Also, while most cable networks experienced a decline in ratings, ESPN maintained the same level in the first half of the year and increased its ratings in the third quarter.
“I am delighted with the progress ESPN made in 1986,” added Grimes. “We acquired long-term, cable-exclusive deals in college football and basketball; added innovative series like ‘Scholastic Sports America;’ and enhanced SportsCenter, the network’s flagship program.”
The following are highlights of 1986:
Programming and Production Corporate Announcements
America’s Cup — 80 hours in 1986-87 39.3 million subscriber homes
Auto Racing — record 84 events telecast SportsCenter granted trademark
Super Slo-Mo utilized in NHL Nike signs seven-figure advertising
CFA — four-year extension of prime-time agreement
series, new four-year deal for late ESPN/Pan Am World Tour
afternoon package Sweepstakes
“Whiparound” format enhances post-season Home video instructional series
basketball and hockey coverage. Third quarter rating increase
Big East & Big Ten basketball — three-year Record 13 ACE Award nominations
pacts Burnett, Brando and Saunders join
NAIA basketball — ‘87 tournament SportsCenter
Scholastic Sports America — first national
high school sports show
Bowling — PBA Summer Tour, LPBT Fall Tour
A summary of 1986’s key developments follows:
- All-women commentating team utilized for Division I women’s basketball tourney: Leandra Reilly (play-by-play) and Mimi Griffin (analyst).
- ESPN’s “Conference Tournament Central” features 27 college basketball games and provides “whiparound” format of live cut-ins to 45 other games.
- Extensive Stanley Cup Playoff coverage features 35 games in 50 days, including Stanley Cup finals. Network utilizes “whiparound” format, cutting in to other live games 115 times, plus 80 times on tape.
- ESPN and CFA extend agreement to provide live prime-time games through 1990.
- Extensive live coverage of World Cup Soccer tourney presented: 15 games, 14 live.
- ESPN reaches four-year agreement with CFA for late afternoon package of 12 games.
- ESPN and Nike, Inc. sign seven-figure ad agreement, giving Nike product exclusivity for all college basketball programming through 1986-87.
- ESPN, the nation’s largest cable TV network, is received in 39.3 million subscriber households, representing 45 percent of country’s TV homes.