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  INDUSTRIAL ANALYSIS

About ESPN 

A Brief History 

ESPN was founded by Father/Son duo Bill and Scott Rasmussen, and officially launched at 7pm on September 7, 1979. Bill Rasmussen, after being fired from his job as a television sports reporter in 1978, conceived of the idea for a cable network that would feature Connecticut sports programming. When he discovered that buying a 24 hr satellite feed would be cheaper than buying blocks for a few hours a night, he rethought his original idea, and expanded to a 24hr nationwide network, despite the fact that at the time, there were no 24 hour networks in 1979 and this would be a huge risk. [1] However, once big investors, such as Getty Oil, took notice of the endeavor, ESPN was able to officially get off the ground, airing the first episode of SportsCenter on that exciting night in 1979. Thus, ESPN was born.

The first show to air on ESPN was Sportscenter, which “offers breaking news, highlights, features and in-depth analysis from award-winning journalists” and “averages 100 million viewers a month.” [2] SportsCenter continues to be a gem of ESPN original programming.

ESPN broadcasts primarily from Bristol, Connecticut, but has offices in New York City, Seattle, Charlotte, NC, and Los Angeles. ESPN broadcasts 65 sports, 24 hours a day in 15 languages in more than 150 countries.

Production, Distribution, and Transmission 

ESPN is its own cable network, owned by two production companies, Disney (owns 80%) and Hearst (owns 20%). [3] ESPN is distributed to over 90 million subscribers, and over the years has developed many different outlets for distributing a variety of sports programming to its loyal viewers. 

  • ESPN on ABC (Broadcast)
  • Six Domestic Cable Networks
  1. ESPN (launched in 1979 – currently 99.5 M homes, ESPN HD launched in 2003)
  2. ESPN2 (1993 – 99.5 M, ESPN2 HD launched in 2005)
  3. All-sports news ESPNEWS (1996 – 73.5M, ESPNEWS HD launched in 2008)
  4. ESPNU (2005 – 72.5 M, focuses on college sports, ESPNU HD launched in 2008)
  5. ESPN Classic (purchased in 1997 – 42.0M, focuses on great sports moments and stars of the past)
  6. Spanish-language ESPN Deportes (2004 – 5.3 M Hispanic homes)
  • Syndicated programming via ESPN Regional Television (the largest syndicator of college sports TV), including the new SEC Networks (football, men’s/women’s basketball & Olympic Sports), plus Big East and WAC (football and men’s basketball), and Big 12 and Mid-American (football), plus subscription packages
  • 46 International networks [4]

Signature Programming and Genre Trends 

Most of the programming on ESPN is sporting events, whether live or tape-delayed. ESPN also features sports news such as their signature program SportsCenter, and sports talk shows. While live event programming and talk shows make up most of ESPN’s programming, ESPN also features the occasional sports-related documentary or original series. But whatever the style or theme of the program, ESPN remains dedicated to strictly sports-related programming, 24 hrs a day. 

References