ESPN, Inc.: 1991 in Review

AnnouncementsYear in Review

ESPN, Inc.: 1991 in Review


ESPN broke new ground both domestically and internationally in 1991 under the direction of Steve Bornstein, the network’s President and Chief Executive Officer. 

Bornstein concluded his first year as CEO in September by announcing the creation of the ESPN Radio Network.  That came just four months after ESPN expanded its worldwide influence by becoming a majority owner of The European Sports Network (TESN) which serves 22.5 million European subscribers. 

The ESPN Radio Network complements the network’s primary business of providing live sports news and sports programming.  It will be produced and broadcast from its Bristol, Conn. headquarters starting Jan. 1, 1992, and distributed by ABC Radio Networks in New York.

TESN was acquired when ESPN and French partners Canal Plus and Compagnie Generale de Eaux purchased the television holdings of the Britain-based WH Smith Group PLC.  TESN operates through four affiliated companies servicing 19 countries.  The agreement also includes the acquisition of English-language Screensport and similar services in German, Dutch and French.

Under Bornstein, ESPN continued to enhance its franchise in sports news and information by returning to an all-sports format.  Also, ESPN selected Lois/GGK as its new advertising agency.  Its initial project is the “Pig-Out” campaign to promote the network’s Sunday Night Football games.

Highlights from 1991 follow:

ESPN Growth


  • 1.9 million American households were added in 1991.
  • ESPN is currently seen in 59.1 million homes, 64% of American television households.
  • For the ninth consecutive time, ESPN will end the year as America’s largest cable network.


  • ESPN distributes programming to more than 65 countries worldwide.
  • ESPN’s International Network doubled its household count in 1991, reaching 1.8 million subscribers in 49 countries throughout Latin America and the Pacific Rim.  Approximately 25 million television households are served by ESPN’s owned and operated network (ESPN International) and its majority-owned equity network (TESN).


        Among the programs added to the network’s lineup are Earthwinds:  Live Interactive Classroom (“Cable in the Classroom”), Thursday Night CFA series, Sports Emmy Awards, 24 Hours at Daytona, International Ladies Figure Skating Championship, The Olympiad, Body by Jake, Schaap Talk,

Up Close and Setting Sail for San Diego.


Among the awards ESPN won in 1991:

  • ESPN won seven Sports Emmy Awards, the network’s most ever, including three awards for sports journalism for SportsCenter, and four in technical/craft areas.
  • ESPN also captured seven ACE Awards, the most ever by the network, including ESPN’s NFL coverage; Chris Berman; and the network’s Sunday Night Major League Baseball commentators,

Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.

  • Chris Berman was voted National Sportscaster of the Year for the second consecutive year by the National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Association.
  • SportsCenter was honored with the National Headliner Award and the Clarion Award.

Dave Nagle

It was 33 years at ESPN for me as of November 2019 (the only job I’ve ever had) after joining merely to help with the America’s Cup for three months at a robust $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 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 and Indy 500; Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, in addition to overseeing the Fan Relations, Archives and, my main areas are tennis, ratings, and corporate communications documents, including ESPN’s history and growth.
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