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ESPN, an abbreviation of Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, is an American cable television network dedicated to broadcasting sports-related programming 24 hours a day. It was founded by Scott Rasmussen and his father Bill Rasmussen, along with Donny Stanley and his son Cardell, and launched on September 7 1979. Its signature telecast, SportsCenter, debuted with the network and aired its 25,000th episode on August 25 2002. ESPN broadcasts primarily out of its studios in Bristol, Connecticut and is available in over 77 million homes in the United States. The name of the company was shortened to "ESPN Inc." in February 1985.



ESPN started as an alternative to the short sports segments in standard television news broadcasts and the information found in "Sports" sections of newspapers. ESPN started out fairly small and often had to broadcast unorthodox sporting events, such as tractor pulls; international sport relatively unknown in the US such as Australian Rules Football, as well as the short-lived United States Football League (USFL), to attract viewers. In 1987, ESPN landed a contract to show National Football League games on Sunday evenings, an event which marked as a turning point in turning ESPN from a smaller cable TV network to a marketing empire and a cornerstone to the enthusiastic "sports culture" it largely helped to create.

ESPN was originally owned by a joint venture between Getty Oil Company (which was purchased by Texaco) and Nabisco. As of 2005, the entire family of ESPN networks and franchises is owned by ABC (the American Broadcasting Company) (80%), which is a part of The Walt Disney Company, and the Hearst Corporation (20%).

In 2003, the Office of Foreign Assets Control reported that ESPN engaged in illegal trade with Cuba and had to settle with the United States government for US$40,000. [1] (

Television networks

ESPN launched a sister network, ESPN2, on October 1, 1993, currently available in more than 65 million homes across America. ESPNEWS was launched on November 1, 1996, providing 24 hour-a-day highlights, scores, and news from the sports world. ESPN Classic was launched on October 9, 1997 as the Classic Sports Network (ESPN purchased it later), and airs documentaries and replays telecasts of some of the notable games in sports history. A Spanish language network, ESPN Deportes, was launched on January 7, 2004. ESPN also owns ESPNHD, which generally airs the normal ESPN programming in high definition. On March 4, 2005, ESPN launched a college athletics channel called ESPNU.

ESPN Regional Television (ERT) is a sports syndication division headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina which produces sporting events for ESPN as well as other networks. ERT produces many regional broadcasts of collegiate sporting events in the United States. On-air, it is usually identified as ESPN Plus (ESPN+). ERT oversees operations of the ESPNU network.

Other business ventures

ESPN launched the ESPN Radio network on January 1, 1992, ESPN The Magazine on March 11, 1998, and its ESPN Zone franchise of restaurant/entertainment complexes in Baltimore, Maryland on July 11, 1998. ESPN Club opened at Walt Disney World in the 1990s, before ESPN Zone opened.

ESPN launched their own website known as ESPN SportsZone on 1995. After 1998, the site was renamed to In 2001, created a new website called, Page 2 which features sports opinion columns from several writers, most notably Skip Bayless and Bill Simmons. Hunter S. Thompson was also a frequent contributor.

The ESPY Awards are also administered by ESPN, which it initiated in 1993. Proceeds from the event go to the V Foundation, a cancer-fighting nonprofit group founded in honor of and continuing in memory of former basketball coach Jim Valvano, who delivered an emotional speech at the first ESPY awards show, mere weeks before his death.

Starting with their 2004 lineup of sports games, Sega acquired the ESPN license to integrate their "TV show look & feel" into its franchise of video games covering America's major professional sports leagues and college basketball. The deal, now owned by Take Two Interactive, will end after the 2005-2006 sports season. After the 2005-2006 season, Electronic Arts has acquired the ESPN license to use for 15-years on their video games. [2] (


ESPN Original Entertainment programs

Personalities (past & present)

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