ESPN, Inc.: 2020 in Review: In a Year Like No Other, Company Priorities and Values Resonated


ESPN, Inc.: 2020 in Review: In a Year Like No Other, Company Priorities and Values Resonated

In 2020 – a year unlike any other where virtually the entire world of sports came to a standstill for months – ESPN relied on its four business priorities and its company values in best serving sports fans through linear, digital and streaming offerings, led by ESPN+ which more than tripled its subscriber count to 11.5 million.  By focusing on Direct-to-Consumer, Audience Expansion, Innovation and Quality Storytelling/Programming – and expressing renewed primacy on diversity and inclusion in the wake of the national conversation about equality and social justice – the company was able to emerge from the disruption with confidence and new skills to navigate the road ahead.

“It was inspiring to witness the amazing ESPN team display remarkable strength in the face of adversity, turning outsized challenges into opportunities to fulfill our mission of serving fans.  Hopefully as well, we served as a unifying force in society by providing a much-needed communal experience.  The cultural relevance of our brand was evidenced by the wide-ranging response to ‘The Last Dance,’ while the innovation our employees consistently bring to their work was reflected in the success of virtual league drafts and producing shows and events with the production crew and commentators off site.  Looking ahead, the ingenuity and resolve we demonstrated gives us the confidence to take on anything that may confront us.” 

— Jimmy Pitaro, in October named Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, who in September was named Sports Business Journal’s Executive of the Year for 2019-20.

ESPN By the Numbers

Key statistics that defied overall industry trends (details lower):

  • ESPN+ more than tripled its subscriber count to 11.5 million and continues to add to its exclusive content including new shows coming in 2021. UFC continues to be a strong draw, especially since May –nine of ESPN’s 10 all-time most-viewed UFC events have come since then.
  • ESPN Digital, by far the world’s leading sports digital platform, has a reach 38% larger than No. 2 (through October via Comscore) – including a global sports category record of 161.6 million users worldwide in October.
  • 10 Years: The length of the new milestone agreement between ESPN and the Southeastern Conference
    (Photo by Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)

    (SEC), adding  up to 15 premier football games beginning in 2024-25, including the SEC Football Championship and many of the conference’s top rivalries, in addition to approximately eight marquee men’s basketball matchups each year across ESPN or ABC. Also, beginning with 2021-22, ESPN+ will carry select non-conference SEC football and men’s basketball games.  With the new deal, every SEC football and men’s basketball game will now be carried on an ESPN network, solidifying ESPN as the exclusive rights holder of the SEC through 2033-34.

  • Ratings successes: ESPN was the #1 cable network in prime for M18-34, M18-49, M25-54, P18-34, and P18-49.  The College Football National Championship was up vs. last year and was again cable’s biggest audience of the year, The Last Danceshattered ESPN documentary viewership records, WNBA Draft (most-viewed since 2004), NFL Draft (most-viewed ever), Top Rank boxing (up 45% including TV’s most-viewed fight since January 2019), the PGA Championship (up 35% and cable’s most-viewed in 10 years), and Monday Night Football (remained cable’s most-watched series).
  • ESPN is the No. 1 sports media publisher for engagement on social platforms with 3.9B total actions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (up +70% YOY, through October) and 15.6B video views across YouTube and Facebook (up +39% YOY).
  • 6,000 square feet – the size of the new studio in Las Vegas, the home of Daily Wager and other segments.
  • 50.1 million – total podcast downloads in September, an ESPN record (up 45% from 2019) while the combined network of ESPN / ABC / FiveThirtyEight / National Geographic totaled a record of 69.5 million in October (up 32% vs. 2019).
  • ESPN led all network groups with eight trophies at the Sports Emmys and swept Gold, Silver and Bronze in the Sports, Media and Entertainment category at the Ogilvy Awards. “The Last Dance” also won ESPN’s first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Series.

Filling the Void

In March, suddenly faced with unprecedented obstacles – notably a staff working remotely and a schedule stripped of its marquee series and events – ESPNers displayed the resourcefulness and creativity the company has become synonymous with over four decades.  To fill the void, ESPN’s programming, production and remote operations departments mobilized quickly and innovated, delivering a mix of compelling news, commentary, access, opinion, analysis, incredible storytelling and even some unique events.  All this was accomplished while creating safe working conditions for those production personnel who needed to be on site.

Lost forever to the pandemic were most of NCAA Basketball’s Champ Week, the NIT and the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship; the NCAA winter Olympic sports championships and entire spring sports season and championships, including both College World Series; MLB games; the fortnight of Wimbledon and other tennis tournaments; the NBA Summer League; the World Series of Poker; part of the XFL season; the entire Professional Fighters League season; the Summer X Games and two of the three overseas Winter X Games; the National Spelling Bee; the MLB Home Run Derby; Formula One races and all the support programming; CFL contests; the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and pre-season NFL games; College GameDay’s planned trip to Dublin; and games from the Little League World Series including regional qualifying rounds.  The pandemic continued to have an impact in the fall when ESPN missed out on college football contests plus bowl games; and NCAA basketball matchups.

(Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

During this time of uncertainty and with its familiar programming missing, the company learned fans needed sports in their life more than ever.  The WNBA (most-watched since 2004) and NFL Drafts (the most-watched ever and aired across ESPN, ABC, NFL Network and ESPN Deportes) were ambitiously reinvented for a virtual world.  The latter served as the template for the NBA Draft in November, also conducted virtually but hosted from Bristol.  It utilized 19 satellite trucks – 15 in the U.S. and four overseas (France, Spain, Greece and Israel) – remote productions kits with 39 other players and access to 17 team war rooms, as well.

The Last Dance” – produced by ESPN Films, Netflix, and Mandalay Sports Media, in association with NBA Entertainment and Jump.23 – was completed ahead of schedule to meet the public’s appetite for fresh sports content and became a global phenomenon.  It shattered ESPN audience records for documentaries and won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Series.  Following “TLD,” Sunday nights remained a showcase of storytelling with 30 for 30 Films and E60 specials about Alex Smith, Bruce Lee, Lance Armstrong and Roy Halladay.

Using commentators and production personnel working from improvised home offices, ESPN produced daily studio shows such as Get Up, First Take, Pardon the Interruption and The Jump and live events such as early morning live Korean baseball (all the way through the championship in late November), Top Rank boxing and in

(Photo by Al Powers / ESPN Images)

May the country’s first live event since Mid-March, UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje, the first of three UFC events that took place in Jacksonville, Fla., with no fans in attendance.  ESPN Deportes and ESPN International produced Spanish- and Portuguese-language shows from home offices in Bristol, Miami, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.  In all cases, the passion and work ethic of ESPN’s people proved essential in rising to the occasion.

How else were the hours filled?  On Friday nights, there were Disney movies with a sports theme.  Also, there were reairs of great games and events such as the Masters, Indy 500 and NFL Draft first rounds; a marathon of “O.J.:  Made in America,” one of WrestleMania and a boxing marathon that included the epic trilogy between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier (Ali-Frazier I had not been on U.S. television in 29 years).  Programming stunts highlighted great performers such as Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and the Williams sisters; and the anniversary of Title IX was noted with a variety of top games and performances by female athletes. ESPN8: Ocho was revived, on ESPN for the first time.

As examples of matching content to the times, SportsCenter stayed on the air with expanded editions to document the latest when sports first shut down.  It celebrated high school and college seniors with “Senior Night” when their careers were suddenly ended without ceremony, profiled sports personalities who were doing good in their community in “Feel Good Friday” segments and on Mother’s Day connected moms in the medical field with their sports hero (Eli Manning, Kyle Lowry, Roger Federer, and Derek Jeter).

(Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

The Undefeated – ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture – contributed substantially to the national conversation around social justice.  When ESPN devoted an evening of programming on June 24 to exploring the multi-faceted issues of racism and social justice in sports, its one-hour Time for Change: We Won’t be Defeated served as the centerpiece.  ESPN personalities, joined by athletes, authors and advocates addressed systemic racism and the unifying role sports plays in bridging the widening gap between law enforcement and the African-American community in a series of roundtable discussions, essays and interviews.  Another TV special, The Stop: Living, Driving and Dying While Black in October, examined the experiences Black Americans have with law enforcement and the long-lasting impact these interactions have on African American communities.  Also, The Undefeated and the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a nationwide survey that explored the views and experiences of African Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.  It also addressed how the Black community views the health care system during a pandemic that has disproportionately affected them.  The poll results and complementary analysis pieces were published via a three-part series on in October.  The Undefeated and Hollywood Records released “I Can’t Breathe/Music for the Movement” – an extended play album of four songs – highlighting the protests across America and beyond against social injustice.

In other developments, The Undefeated widened its lens to include coverage of sports, fashion, music, the arts and technology, with a goal of sharing that content with a larger audience in a variety of ways. Year of the Black QuarterbackThe Undefeated’s season-long digital series examining the emergence of Black QBs in the NFL – culminated in Black History Month (February) with a television special.  The Undefeated’s first book, The Fierce 44:  Black Americans Who Shook Up the World, for young readers was published in February and became a New York Times bestseller.  Later in the year, the critically acclaimed Tiger Woods: America’s Son examined Tiger Woods’ complex racial identity and the meaning of the golfer’s success in America.  Also, culture critic Soraya McDonald became ESPN’s first finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.

espnW also contributed leading content, notably When We Play, a programming initiative spanning ESPN’s networks and platforms June 21 – 23.  It spotlighted many of the greatest games and performances in women’s sports, plus original features, with the espnW brand and unifying voice.  Also, espnW’s 11th annual Women and Sports Summit – with its promise of uniting a world-class group of leaders across sports, business, and entertainment for a conversation that will drive change and opportunity for women in sports – moved online with a best-ever lineup of speakers.  These included Natalie Portman, Chelsea Clinton, Glennon Doyle, Dany Garcia, DeMar DeRozan, and Abby Wambach.

In addition, features explored the intersection of sports and society, including a piece by Ramona Shelburne and Katie Barnes on Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the WNBA Atlanta Dream and a U.S. senator; Barnes’ profile of WNBA star Maya Moore who took time off from the court to seek justice for the imprisoned Jonathan Irons (since released); a look at UCLA basketball player Natalie Chou who won’t stand for anti-Asian racism related to coronavirus; and a piece about how the Blackfeet Nation Boxing club is fighting to save lives of Native American women.

(Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

On radio, the nation’s largest sports network, in addition to the usual weekday talk shows (hosted from commentators’ homes), weekend listeners were treated to great World Series and NBA Finals games of the past.  A “Hometown Heroes” segment was created to put a spotlight on individuals going above and beyond for others during the difficult times.  In addition, in August a contemporary and diverse new weekday lineup debuted.

The ESPYS also adapted for the times with a virtual ceremony co-hosted by athletes Sue Bird, Megan Rapinoe and Russell Wilson that raised nearly $4 million for the V Foundation.  The show not only celebrated the year in sports as always but highlighted inspiring stories of service, perseverance, and courage in the face of this unprecedented health crisis. It also showcased athlete activism as the sports world issues a call to action to address racial injustice in America.

Another awards show held virtually, the Sports Emmys, was a highlight of the year as ESPN took home eight trophies to lead all network groups.

Meanwhile, the #oneteam Public Service Announcement (PSA), produced by a partnership between Corporate Citizenship and the marketing department, used 24 commentators to convey that with games on pause, ESPN and its fans are still on one big team with important roles to play, including keeping social distance, checking on each other and supporting the heroes on the front line.  Later promos were born of the importance to stay connected with fans.  The first captured the state of mind of fans during the stoppage and another the heightened anticipation for sports as they began to return.  They served as a means to maintain ESPN’s relationship with fans, showing ESPNers are missing sports together with them.  Marketing was honored in October when for the first time, ESPN swept Gold, Silver and Bronze in the Sports, Media and Entertainment category at the Ogilvy Awards, given by the Advertising Research Foundation for 2020 ad campaigns that exemplify the power of research and insights that drive successful marketing campaigns.

In addition to the company’s internal efforts to enhance opportunity, inclusion and retention for women and people of color – working to create a vibrant community where all employees feel valued and engaged and where diverse voices drive innovation and curiosity across the organization, ESPN Corporate Citizenship looked externally to make a difference.  Using the power of sport to positively address society’s needs, this included the decline in youth sports participation.  A leading indicator of future fandom, this trend among the fans of tomorrow is therefore important to ESPN’s business.  Outreach efforts moved online to continue the priority of giving back to the community and those in need.  Also, in October ESPN announced that at least 60 percent of all its grants in the Access to Sports space next year will be directed towards programs for Black and African-American youth. The total value of these grants will exceed $1 million.

Suddenly an Abundance

As a number of sports were finalizing their plans for return, ESPN organized and aired SportsCenter Special: The Return of Sports.  Six commissioners from the top American professional team sports discussed the resumption of competition in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic:  Gary Bettman (NHL), Cathy Engelbert (WNBA), Don Garber (MLS), Roger Goodell (NFL), Rob Manfred (MLB) and Adam Silver (NBA).

(Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)

Following in the footsteps of Top Rank and the UFC, in July action returned in rapid fire.  Formula One resumed and was then followed by MLS (ESPN served as the producer for all 51 games played in a bubble at Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports, 31 of which aired on an ESPN network), WNBA (a record schedule of 37 regular-season games plus 15 playoffs including a most-ever seven on ABC, all in a bubble), NBA (20 games plus 40 playoffs, also in the Disney bubble, while producing 20 more for regional sports networks) and MLB (49 games plus 16 in the Wild Card Round).  The latter enjoyed a record “Opening Night” audience.  Also, the UFC schedule increased with postponed cards added to the schedule.  This influx of telecasts created a delicate scheduling jigsaw puzzle for the programming department to solve which required weekday afternoon contests for MLS, NBA and MLB.

An August highlight was the return of the PGA Championship to ESPN after 30 years in the first of an 11-year deal.  It was cable’s most-watched in 10 years, up 35% from last year.  Also that month, college football began – with College GameDay still on the road if only with a virtual pit of fans.  One riveting highlight was a roundtable discussion about racism with college players and Kirk Herbstreit’s emotional response.  Also, tennis’ US Open was held in a bubble without fans and ESPN provided its usual two weeks of marathon telecasts – all matches covered on the ESPN app – keeping 600 staffers healthy and socially distant in ESPN’s biggest annual production.

(Photo by Al Powers / ESPN Images)

In September, the NFL returned and with it, Monday Night Football – cable’s most-watched series.  Sunday NFL Countdown andMonday Night Countdown resumed albeit from a new home, a rooftop studio at ESPN’s New York Seaport District studios.  In the first 14 weeks of the season, MNF posted 15 of cable sports’ 16 biggest audiences since January’s College Football Playoff (the other being the NFL Draft).  The September 21 “Megacast” – on the 50th anniversary of the first MNF game – featured the first home game for the Las Vegas Raiders, hosting the New Orleans Saints.  It included a simulcast on ABC, the first MNF game on ABC since 2005 and first of three in the 2020 campaign.

Also, the rest of the fall college sports seasons got underway, with more than 150 men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and field hockey matchups across ESPNU, ACC Network, Longhorn Network and SEC Network, with 65 matchups available to stream on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.  Additional games were accessible via ESPN3, ACCNX, SEC Network+ and ESPN+; all games were available on the ESPN App.

In addition, ESPN networks aired 16 (of a possible 21) MLB Wild Card playoff games in four days, a new round created for the truncated season, including seven on September 30 and the first MLB action (three games) on ABC since the 1995 World Series.  ESPN+ presented StatCast alternate presentations while ESPN Radio was the exclusive national radio home of the post-season including the World Series for the 23rd consecutive year.  Jessica Mendoza made history as the first woman to serve as a national game analyst for the Fall Classic on any platform; similarly, Doris Burke had done the same for the NBA Finals.

(Photo by Isaac Brekken / ESPN Images)

ESPN continues to reap benefits with boxing telecasts; through eight Saturday night telecasts on ESPN, Top Rank on ESPN has averaged 1,102,000 viewers, up 40% from 11 Saturday night telecasts in 2019.  This includes TV’s most-watched bout since January 2019 with Terrance Crawford’s TKO over Kell Brook in November.  Gains for are even stronger among Adults 18-49, which is currently up 47% from last year.

Two great traditions were brought together thanks to the upended sports calendar, College GameDay and the Masters.  Airing live from the Par 3 course on November 14, the show averaged 1.8 million viewers on ESPN from 10 a.m. ET to noon, 31% higher than the time slot had performed year to date.

Growing in Key, Ascendant Areas

The biggest company in sports media continues to look for growth opportunities in new areas of great potential, reaching fans, particularly young fans, where they live their media lives.

  • ESPN+, now with 11.5 million subscribers, continues to grow and add to its programming:
    • Soccer programming was enhanced with exclusive Bundesliga and Scottish Premiership action adding to an already industry-leading offering of international soccer plus the MLS.
    • Supplementing the traditional coverage, ESPN’s first-ever group and hole coverage of the PGA Championship and the Masters, which also included two days of practice, was critically acclaimed.
    • The number of Detail hosts expanded with Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Cal Ripken Jr., Geno Auriemma, Pau Gasol and Daniel Cormier of the UFC. In addition, Phil Jackson, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr and Mark Jackson hosted special editions related to The Last Dance and the Chicago Bulls.
    • In November, ESPN+ expanded its daily studio show programming and premium written content, as the exclusive home for the live and replay telecasts of four weekday ESPN Radio shows, a popular daily Spanish-language show (Jorge Ramos y Su Banda) and adding exclusive written content from more than 20 additional ESPN reporters and analysts to its existing roster.
    • (Photo by Eric Lars Bakke / ESPN Images)

      There is more exclusive programming coming in 2021: a morning highlights/opinion show; a program hosted by Stephen A. Smith; the nine-part Man in the Arena focusing on Tom Brady’s march to nine Super Bowls; and versions of Peyton’s Places hosted by David Ortiz (MLB), Ronda Rousey (combat sports),  Abby Wambach (soccer) and Eli Manning (college football).

    • October’s highly anticipated Lomachenko vs Lopez boxing match was ESPN+’s most-streamed bout.Also, The Ultimate Fighterwill come exclusively to ESPN+ in March.
    • Coverage of the American Athletic Conference debuted and agreements were struck with the Patriot League and the Southland Conference, increasing the number of college conferences on the service to more than 20 — Big 12, AAC, America East, ASUN, Atlantic 10, Big South, Conference USA, ECAC Hockey, Horizon, The Ivy League, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Missouri Valley, NEC, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Summit, Sun Belt, WAC and more.
  • ESPN Digital, by far the world’s leading sports digital platform with a reach 38% larger than No. 2 (through October via Comscore) – including a global sports category record of 161.6 million users worldwide in October, offers a vibrant source of news, highlights, analysis, features, personalized content and more with localized versions in 20+ markets around the globe.
    • Through October, ESPN Digital had led the U.S. sports category for 32 consecutive months (and 77 of the last 79).  (Source: Comscore)
    • ESPN’s digital content routinely averages a higher average minute audience than many cable sports television networks.
    • ESPN Digital is 30% larger based on unique users than the No. 2 sports network in the U.S. in 2020. (Source: Comscore)
    • The ESPN App continues to be the most popular sports app in the U.S. in 2020 (Jan-Oct) in terms of reach, 3.4 times larger than the No. 2 sports app. (Source: Comscore)
    • The ESPN Fantasy App continues to be the #1 fantasy sports app in the U.S. in 2020 (Jan-Oct) in terms of reach, +25% larger than the No. 2 fantasy sports app. (Source: Comscore)
    • With a packed sporting schedule in September, ESPN set a record high for total streamers and minutes spent streaming. (Source: Adobe Analytics)
  • ESPN Stories debuted on the ESPN app in July. ESPN Stories is an engaging, tap-through vertical video experience that highlights daily content across the sports world with an injection of personality, authenticity and fun.
  • Off-platform, the company has been innovative, using Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and Snap. The company’s efforts were rewarded with strong growth, despite the sports shutdown.  Highlights:
    • ESPN is the No. 1 sports media publisher for engagement on social platforms with 3.9B total actions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (up +70% YOY, through October) and 15.6B video views across YouTube and Facebook (up +39% YOY).
    • ESPN’s primary social media accounts (ESPN and SportsCenter) experienced significant increases in average social engagements per post across social platforms compared to 2019 (through November) (Instagram – +56%, Facebook – +58%, and Twitter – +26%).
    • ESPN accounts across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram generated 3.9 billion social actions (Jan – Nov), up +70% vs. 2019.  The 3.9 billion is also best among sports publishers this year. (Source: Shareablee)
    • House of Highlights creator Omar Raja and a talented group of social specialists joined the company at the beginning of the year and the SportsCenter Instagram account now has over 20 million followers with more than 40 posts garnering over one million social engagements apiece.
    • On Instagram alone, the ESPN and SportsCenter accounts generated more than 2.5 billion total social engagements (+81%).
    • ESPN’s off-platform content team continued robust content across YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the ESPN App, and is on pace to shatter 2019’s records of 620 shows and 252 million views.  New offerings include Baseball Tonight Live, The Wrap-Up, DangerTalk with Russell Wilson, Monday Tailgate, and the first online show from the new Las Vegas Studio, Bet.
    • On YouTube, ESPN has garnered three billion views and 11.2 billion minutes watched, along with several new channel launches highlighted by ESPN Deportes, which crossed one million subscribers in November. Other channels launching in 2020 included The Undefeated, Sports Betting, and the ESPN Archive channel.
    • ESPN’s Snapchat team was busy building two new shows – SC Now and ESPN: The Throwback – in addition to programming news content for Snapchat’s new “Happening Now” product leading to 14% yearly growth of unduplicated unique viewers across all shows (Jan-Sep 2019 vs. Jan-Sep 2020).
    • The most popular posts of the year by platform: Instagram: J Will on Kobe (1.97M Social Engagements, 8.3M Video views), Twitter: Dear Kobe (656K Social Engagements, 8.1M Video Views), Facebook: Rebounding dog (1.3M Social Engagements; 26.6M Video Views), and TikTok: This mom surprising her daughter and boyfriend when she came home from Kuwait is everything (1M Likes, 62M Views).
  • ESPN continues to lean into the burgeoning sports betting space:
    • The Las Vegas studio opened as the new home of Daily Wager and other segments for TV, including
      (Photo by Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)

      SportsCenter, digital and social. The 6,000-square-foot facility has three studios and is connected to ESPN control rooms and technical operations around the country.

    • ESPN entered into two separate multi-year agreements with Caesars Entertainment, Inc. and DraftKings Inc. Both include co-exclusive link integrations across ESPN digital platforms connecting fans to sportsbooks from Caesars Entertainment’s sports betting partner, William Hill, and DraftKings. As part of the new agreements, ESPN expands its relationships with both Caesars, as the exclusive odds provider and co-exclusive sportsbook link-out provider, and DraftKings, as the exclusive daily fantasy sports provider and co-exclusive sportsbook link-out provider.
  • ESPN’s podcasting efforts continue to set records and appeal to a very young audience.
    • September saw a new high of 50 million downloads overall, up 44% from a year ago.
    • ESPN Daily celebrated its first anniversary in October with near double the number of monthly downloads as when it premiered.
    • New titles included SVPod with Scott Van Pelt and Bloodlines with Wright Thompson.

Moving Ahead with Confidence

(Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)

Through all the twists and turns 2020 presented – and with hard work and resiliency making up for the lack of ablueprint to conducting business during a pandemic – more than ever ESPN remains today the leader and the place of record in the industry for sports fans.  To wit, in the heavy news cycle of 2020 ESPN accounted for 13 of the biggest 25 cable audiences.  Also, ESPN remains cable’s best option for advertisers seeking the important and hard-to-reach young male viewer, despite the ever-increasing growth in video options and competition.  The current quarter will be the 30th consecutive in which ESPN has been the No. 1 full-time basic cable network among Men 18-34 (starting in Q3 2013).  Looking at the streak in terms of years, ESPN has been No. 1 for at least 29 straight and also 21 consecutive in prime time.  ESPN2 is right behind ESPN among cable sports networks among M18-34; it has been #2 every year since its 1993 launch.

The ESPN brand reaches every continent with leading entities across television, radio, print, Internet, broadband, wireless, consumer products and event management.  It is where fans come together to celebrate the sports, the teams and the players they love and to find a sense of community.  ESPN has played a vital role in that dynamic since 1979, yet it has never been more important than today with a global pandemic, the stoppage of sports, a divisive political arena and the essential fight for racial justice.  The company’s responsibility in this regard and its special connection with its viewers, listeners and readers wherever they may be is unmatched in media and is one not taken lightly.

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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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