Key programming acquisitions, including the NHL and the 1994 World Cup Soccer Tournament, growth in ESPN’s international distribution, and the premiere of ESPN Radio and the ESPN Phone Update highlighted 1992 at the Total Sports Network. Despite the difficult economic climate, ESPN remained the world’s preeminent television outlet for sports and the largest cable network in the U.S. In addition, ESPN’s on-air product was enhanced by increased commitments to news and information programming and to point-of-view miniature camera technology.
“After another outstanding year providing quality to our viewers, affiliates and advertisers, ESPN is well positioned to remain the first and best place sports fans turn to for the finest coverage of sports news and events,” said Steve Bornstein, ESPN President and Chief Executive Officer.
Highlights from 1992 follow:
ESPN HOUSEHOLD GROWTH
- 2.3 million American households were added in 1992 (increase of four percent).
- ESPN is currently seen in 61.4 million homes, 66% of American television households.
- For the 10th consecutive time, ESPN will end the year as America’s largest cable network.
- ESPN International serves more than 34 million homes in more than 75 countries. Together with its domestic distribution, ESPN reaches more than 95 million households worldwide.
- ESPN International Network (live, 24-hour service) experienced steady growth in 1992 and currently serves over 2.5 million subscribers in 56 countries throughout Latin America and the Pacific Rim.
- The European Sports Network’s subscriber count reached 32 million in 1992, up 78% from
18 million at the end of 1990.
- New or enhanced programming included the return of the NHL; the 1992 America’s Cup; the Weiser
Lock Copper, Las Vegas, Peach and Poulan/Weed Eater Independence Bowls; the Arlington Million thoroughbred race; live coverage of the ACC Basketball championship; the Major League Baseball Expansion Draft; the Tour de France; and Arena Football.
- New agreements for future programming were announced for the 1994 World Cup Soccer Tournament,
the PGA and Senior PGA Tours, the ATP Tour Championship Series, the Hall of Fame Bowl, and
ESPN’s first deal for the year 2000 — for the NASCAR races from Bristol (Tenn.) Raceway.
- ESPN’s award-winning news and information programming was given an even greater commitment
with an increase in overall hours, an increase in the number of Outside the Lines programs and distribution on ESPN’s live International Network. In addition to complete and incisive daily sports
news reporting, SportsCenter again showcased its capabilities with extensive coverage of the major
sports stories of 1992, including the Mike Tyson trial, the continuing Magic Johnson story, Larry Bird’s retirement and the changes in the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s office.
- ESPN maintained its leadership position in sports television production, particularly with the use of
point-of-view technology — wireless, miniature cameras. The network utilized an improved “YachtCam”
with four lenses which could pan and tilt at the America’s Cup, debuted “JockeyCam” in September
and now employs “Goal PostCam” at both ends of the field in NFL games, among other innovations.
- ESPN Radio debuted in January, breaking the news of Danny Tartabull signing with the Yankees on
its first weekend. After launching with 135 affiliates, it now reaches 240 stations and plans have been announced for increased reporting from major sporting events. ABC Radio Networks is responsible
for advertising sales, station affiliation, marketing and promotion.
- ESPN Phone Update was launched in November to complement the network’s news and information programming with a 900-number, call-in service.
- ESPN announced the formation of the American Sports Awards, given for Excellence in Sports Performance. The ESPYs will include more than 30 categories including best performances by sport, general “cross-cutter” awards and video awards which will be voted on by the public via a 900-number. Proceeds will benefit the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, Inc. The ceremony will be televised by ESPN March 4.
- ESPN won five Sports Emmy Awards, including four for sports news.
- ESPN received six CableACE Awards, including SportsCenter and Sunday Night NFL. In November, ESPN received a network-record 23 nominations for the awards to be announced in January 1993.
- Robin Roberts of SportsCenter was honored with the Women at Work Broadcast Journalism Award, presented by the National Commission on Working Women at the National Press Club.