In 2000, ESPN enhanced its leadership position in sports media with major growth initiatives, including online, wireless, television overseas and interactive video games. The company is strategically positioned with a broad array of platforms, including the top two national sports television networks, the leading online sports site, the nation’s largest sports radio network, a magazine with a circulation of 1.25 million and more.
ESPN also committed to new technology and growth, debuting a new studio and breaking ground on an extensive expansion that will double the size of its Connecticut headquarters.
“ESPN continues to invest in the future and enhance its brand name at home and around the world, building meaningful relationships with sports fans,” said George Bodenheimer, ESPN president. “To serve fans better tomorrow than we do today – that is our goal and the hallmark of ESPN’s success for 21 years.”
Significant developments among ESPN’s six domestic networks:
- ESPN Classic was relaunched with SportsCentury, winner of ESPN’s first Peabody Award
- The innovative NHL RULES! telecasts were enthusiastically received
- The award-winning series Outside the Lines expanded with Sunday morning editions
- The Great Outdoor Games debuted in Lake Placid, N.Y. and will return next July
- Sunday Night Football remained the highest-rated series on basic cable
- The first year of the new NHL agreement concluded, with cross-promotion across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC leading to growth in the coveted male 18-34 demographic
- Baseball coverage doubled in the first year of a new agreement. ESPN produced Spanish simulcasts for select MLB telecasts
- An increased focus on original programming included the debut of ESPN’s 2-Minute Drill and documentaries.
- ESPN surpassed the 80 million homes mark while ESPN2, in 73 million, hit the 70-million plateau faster than any cable network in history. ESPN Classic’s subscriber base tripled to 30 million homes since its acquisition in 1997. ESPNEWS passed the 20-million mark. ESPN Extra and ESPN Now, digital networks launched in 1999, are in three million homes.
ESPN International, in more than 82 million homes, distributes programming to most countries in the world through 19 networks and syndication, continues to leverage the ESPN brand worldwide:
- ESPN Israel was launched and ESPN Fox Sports in Brazil was announced.
- ESPN Latin America debuted a Spanish-language SportsCenter produced in Argentina.
- The X Games announced a global expansion with events planned on five continents.
- Significant rights agreements were renewed, including the Australian and French Opens and the ATP Masters Series in tennis; golf’s U.S. Open, PGA Championship and the Masters; Major League Baseball, WNBA, UEFA Champions soccer and 2002 World Cup qualifiers.
- ESPN sold its interest in Eurosport with plans to focus its resources on the establishment of the ESPN brand in Europe across a broad portfolio of businesses.
- ESPN.com’s fifth year saw further growth for the entire ESPN Internet Group, which set a record – 10.8 million users in September, 41% more than September 1999. Also, EIG generated 481.1 million page views that month, more than twice its nearest three competitors combined. The Spanish-language ESPNdeportes.com debuted.
- ESPN Radio now lists more than 150 full-time stations (660 total affiliates)
- ESPN The Magazine enjoys the youngest readership in sports (median age – 30), doubled ad revenue over 1999 and has more than tripled circulation to 1.25 million in under three years
- ESPN and wireless data services finalized a number of key agreements, including AT&T Wireless and Verizon, and launched a wireless version of its daily game 3 Play
- Marketing efforts included the debut of ESPN The Truck with interactive displays to tour the country, while ESPN was named Marketer of the Year by the Promotion Marketing Association
- ESPN Enterprises launched ESPN The Games video games with Disney Interactive and Konami and released two books, Outtakes by Dan Patrick and the 2001 Sports Almanac
- ESPN Regional Television, the nation’s largest sports syndicator, signed a new agreement with Conference USA, extended Big 12 and Big East deals and produced the America’s Cup
- ESPN Zone opened sites in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., with Anaheim to follow in January 2001; Zones will open in Las Vegas and Denver later in 2001
- Interactive television initiatives were developed
- SportsTicker forged strategic alliances overseas and covered more than 50,000 games
ESPN: 2000 IN REVIEW
Jan. 9 ESPN2 airs NHL RULES!, an innovative telecast of Colorado at Chicago with two analysts (no play-by-play), an NHL official, questions from ESPN.com users, extra cameras, mikes on officials and extensive discussion of rules and strategy.
26 A Harris Interactive Survey ranks the X Games as the second most-appealing sporting event to kids aged six to 17, behind only the Olympic Games.
Feb. 2 Tennessee plays Connecticut in the first regular-season women’s game in primetime on ESPN since 1986. The #4-ranked Vols defeat top-ranked UConn 72-71.
3-6 For the first time, the Winter X Games are held in the East, Mt. Snow, Vermont. The fourth annual event sets an attendance record with 83,500 spectators.
14 A new venue for the ESPY Awards – the MGM Grand in Las Vegas – and the debut of Decade Awards for excellence throughout the 1990s help attract the best collection of sports stars in the ceremony’s eight years.
March 2 ESPN2 concludes its extensive coverage of the America’s Cup from New Zealand. A 5-0 sweep by the Kiwis of Italy assures the first successful defense by a non-U.S. team in event history. The telecasts were produced by ESPN Regional Television.
7 Baseball Tonight begins its 11th season with its most aggressive schedule ever –more original shows (Wednesdays added, more nights with two 60-minute shows, weekly shows during off-season) and re-airs on ESPN2 that triple total hours from 178 to 702.
14 ESPN and Big 12 extend their college basketball agreement through 2007-08. ESPN Regional Television (basketball syndication) and ABC Sports (football) are also included.
26 ESPN Classic televises its first-ever live telecast, the implosion of the Seattle Kingdome.
30 ESPN receives its first-ever Peabody Award, for SportsCentury. Earlier this month, Women in Cable & Telecommunications awarded SportsCentury “A Tribute Accolade.”
April 2 Outside the Lines debuts a new weekly Sunday morning show. The 30-minute, single-issue program is hosted by Bob Ley.
3 MLB season begins with five games on ESPN and ESPN2. Timed with the launch of its extensive MLB schedule, ESPN2 debuts its new logo to reflect the network’s programming quality which has become analogous to ESPN. Also, ESPN and ESPN2 become the first national networks to incorporate Spanish accent marks and the Spanish alphabet when graphically presenting names of Hispanic MLB players.
12 ESPN’s NHL regular-season viewership increases six percent over the previous year, including at 35% rise in the key 18-to-34-year-old-male demographic group.
26 ESPN wins four Sports Emmy Awards.
May 1 The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association names Dan Patrick Sportscaster of the Year and former ESPN commentator Jim Simpson is inducted into the group’s Hall of Fame. Patrick joins ESPN’s Chris Berman as the only cable sportscasters to win.
4 In the third-longest NHL game ever, the Philadelphia Flyers defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 at 12:01 of the fifth overtime on ESPN to even their playoff series at 2-2.
6 ESPN Classic’s fifth anniversary.
7 ESPN debuts Ultra Slo Mo — which records up to 500 images per second compared to 90/second for Super Slo Mo, providing a more detailed replay — on Sunday Night Baseball.
June 1 ESPN2 reaches the 70 million household mark in less than seven years, more than a year faster than any other cable network.
July 5 ESPN signs a 10-year agreement for ACC basketball. The deal begins in 2001 and includes ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN.com, ESPN Classic, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the ACC Tournament and ABC Sports.
10 ESPN’s first Major League Baseball Spanish simulcast, for the Century 21 Home Run Derby. Simulcasts, offered free to affiliates nationwide, continue on Sunday night games.
10 ESPN Classic “relaunches” with a new look and a new schedule, anchored by SportsCentury, one-hour profiles of sports figures every weeknight at 8 p.m.
12 ESPN debuts the first national use of a continuous on-screen shot clock in the Sacramento- Houston WNBA telecast.
20-23 The inaugural ESPN Great Outdoor Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., with more than 200 competitors and 17.5 hours of coverage on ESPN/ESPN2 July 27 – August 4.
August 18 ESPN’s new sets for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, NFL PrimeTime, Baseball Tonight and other studio shows debuts.
19-26 The sixth annual X Games in San Francisco enjoy record viewership. During the Games, major announcements include the Action Sports and Music Awards.
24 ESPN and Triple Crown Productions announce the ESPN/ESPN2 coverage surrounding horse racing’s premiere events will continue with at least 44 hours of annual programming.
Sept. ESPNEWS hits the 20 million homes plateau.
3 NFL Primetime returns to a one-hour format with Sunday Night Football moving its start 15 minutes later to 8:30 p.m. ET. The start of the season also marks Chris Berman’s 15th year as host of Sunday NFL Countdown, “tying the record” set by Brent Musburger on CBS.
10 For the second time in 2000, ESPN sets a golf viewership record. The final-round of the Bell Canadian Open – a Tiger Woods’ one-stroke victory – was seen in an average of 2,744,000 homes, based on a 3.45 rating.
11 ESPN’s 2-Minute Drill – a sports knowledge game show hosted by Kenny Mayne produced by Michael Davies, producer of ABC’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? – debuts. In November, a CD-ROM game version goes on sale.
12 Jeremy Schaap interviews former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight live on ESPN, the first television interview since he had been fired on the 10th.
Oct. 1 ESPN Classic now reaches 30 million homes.
7 ESPN’s College GameDay is aired from Florida State at Miami, a site chosen by users of ESPN.com. More than one million votes were cast.
23 ESPN announces its four most widely distributed television networks will be transmitted digitally beginning in March 2001, enhancing signal quality and reliability, while virtually eliminating all affiliate responsibility for switching to and from alternate programming.
Nov. 1 ESPN breaks ground on its Digital Center, the company’s largest building
20 ESPN televises its 262nd NASCAR Winston Cup race after 20 years in the sport.
30 ESPN’s 200th NFL telecast, Detroit at Minnesota. For the 14th year, Sunday Night Football is the highest-rated series on basic cable television.
Dec. ESPN reaches the 80 million household mark.
4 Philadelphia is announced as the host of the seventh annual X Games in August 2001.
11 ESPN and Conference USA announce an eight-year agreement for football and basketball that incorporates ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN.com and ESPN Classic.
14 ESPN/ESPN2 acquire additional WNBA games formerly aired on Lifetime Television.
April 3 ESPN International retains exclusive cable and satellite distribution rights for Latin America for French Open Tennis through 2003.
May 22 ESPN sells its stake in Eurosport and Eurosport France to its partners, TF1 and CANAL+.
June 15 ESPN Israel launches on all cable homes.
July 17 ESPN Radio launches in Argentina. ESPN Radio in Brazil follows in August.
August During the X Games, major announcements include qualifying events to be held on five continents and the Global X Games Challenge featuring regional teams.
Oct. 18 ESPN International announces joint agreement with Fox Sports International and Globosat to launch new ESPN Fox Sports Network in Brazil.
Nov. 6 ESPNdeportes.com, a Spanish-language sports site, debuts.
15 A Spanish-language SportsCenter produced in Argentina debuts on ESPN Latin America.
Jan. ESPN The Magazine raises its guaranteed circulation to 1,000,000 (1,250,000 in Jan. ‘01)
26 Chad and Alisha Blondeel of Michigan name their son Espen, in honor of ESPN.
Feb. 1 ESPN The Magazine’s first special issue, a preview of the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup season, goes on sale, followed in the fall by Dick Vitale’s College Basketball Preview.
March ESPN is now available live onboard airplanes on screens installed in seat backs aboard Alaska Airlines, Legend Airlines and JetBlue.
7 ESPN Radio signs its 100th full-time station – WTMT-AM in Louisville, Ky.
13 ESPN enters into an extensive multi-media agreement with skateboarder Tony Hawk including television coverage, event organization, Internet content and more.
April 1 ESPN.com’s fifth anniversary, heralding five years as the most popular sports Internet site.
May 10 Outtakes, a collection of Dan Patrick’s unconventional, fast-paced Q&A interviews in ESPN The Magazine with new material added, is published.
11 ESPN.com is awarded the 2000 Webby Award for sports and the People’s Voice Award. The Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences.
July 31 Dan Patrick’s site within ESPN.com is launched with commentary and interviews. Also, his weekday three-hour ESPN Radio program debuts on WEVD-AM in New York.
Sept. ESPN Internet Group’s most popular month ever – 10.8 million users, 41% more than September 1999.
5 SportsTicker continues its expansion of international content and distribution, entering a joint licensing agreement with Press Association, the national news agency of the U.K. and Ireland, allowing each company to distribute the other’s content.
20 “ESPN The Truck” debuts. The 56-foot mobile unit will promote ESPN and its brand extensions at industry shows, major sporting events and ESPN-owned events.
24 ESPN The Games debuts its PlayStation2 titles — Winter X Games Snowboarding and International Track and Field. Coming soon: NBA 2Night & NHL 2Night.
Nov. 2 ESPN and Disney Regional Entertainment announce an ESPN Zone will open in Las Vegas in 2001. On December 8, a Denver outlet, the eighth, is also announced.
6 ESPN.com debuts Page 2, a sometimes less-than-serious, fresh and different take on sports featuring contributions from ESPN personalities, as well as celebrities and writers.
16 ESPN and TNS Intersearch announce a new five-year deal to jointly develop and market The ESPN Sports Poll, A Service Of TNS Intersearch, the leading provider of sports-related consumer intelligence in the United States.