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This article is about the U.S. television channel. For the company and other channels of the same name, see ESPN Inc. For the railroad, see East Penn Railroad.
ESPN wordmark.svg
ESPN logo since 1985
Launched September 7, 1979 (1979-09-07)
Owned by ESPN Inc.
(The Walt Disney Company, 80%
Hearst Corporation, 20%)
Picture format 720p (HDTV)
(HD feed downgraded to letterboxed 480i for SDTVs)
Slogan The Worldwide Leader In Sports
Country  United States
Language English
Broadcast area Worldwide
Headquarters Bristol, Connecticut, United States
Sister channel(s) ESPN2
ESPN Films
ESPN Brasil
ESPN Classic
ESPN Deportes
Longhorn Network
SEC Network
Website ESPN
DirecTV 206 (HD/SD)
209-1 (alternate feed; HD/SD)
1206 (VOD)
Dish Network 140 (HD/SD)
145, 147 and 148 (alternate feeds)
Time Warner Cable 300 (HD/SD)
Available on other cable providers Check local listings for channels
AT&T U-Verse 1602 (HD)
602 (SD)
Verizon FiOS 570 (HD)
70 (SD)
Streaming media
WatchESPN Watch live (U.S. cable internet subscribers only)

ESPN (originally an initialism for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is a U.S.-based global cable and satellite television channel, that is owned as a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company (which operates the network, through its 80% ownership interest) and Hearst Corporation (which holds a 20% interest). The channel focuses on sports-related programming including live and recorded event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming.

ESPN broadcasts primarily from studios located in Bristol, Connecticut. The network also operates offices in Miami; New York City; Seattle; Charlotte; and Los Angeles. John Skipper is ESPN's current president, a position he has held since January 1, 2012. While ESPN is one of the most successful sports networks, it has been subject to criticism, which includes accusations of biased coverage,[1] conflict of interest, and controversies with individual broadcasters and analysts.

ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.

As of August 2013, approximately 97,736,000 American households (85.58% of households with television) receive ESPN.[2]


Main article: History of ESPN

Founded by Bill Rasmussen, his son Scott Rasmussen and Aetna insurance agent Ed Eagan, ESPN launched on September 7, 1979 in Connecticut, under the direction of Chet Simmons, the network's President and CEO (later the United States Football League's first commissioner). The Getty Oil Company provided funding to begin the new venture via executive Stuart Evey.

ESPN's signature telecast, SportsCenter, debuted with the network and aired its 50,000th episode on September 13, 2012. In early 2009, ESPN opened an office and studio facility in Los Angeles located at L.A. Live, from which the late night edition of SportsCenter is now broadcast. SportsCenter's iconic theme[3] (DaDaDa, DaDaDa) was written by John Colby, a Grammy winning composer, producer and music director.[4]

High definition[edit]

ESPN launched its high definition simulcast feed, originally branded as ESPNHD, on March 20, 2001. All studio shows based in Bristol and at L.A. Live, along with most live event telecasts, are broadcast by ESPN in high definition. ESPN is one of the few networks with an all-digital infrastructure. Footage from non-HD sources is presented in 4:3 standard definition with stylized pillarboxing. Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn began airing in HD on September 27, 2010, with the relocation of the production of both shows to the building housing the ABC News Washington bureau.[5]

ESPN, as with Disney/ABC's other broadcast and cable networks, uses the 720p HD resolution format because ABC executives proposed a progressive scan signal that resolves fluid and high-speed motion in sports better, particularly during slow-motion replays.[6]

In 2011, ESPNHD began to downplay its distinct promotion logo in preparation for a shift of its standard definition feed from a 4:3 full-screen to a letterboxed format, which occurred on June 1 of that year.


Alongside its live sports broadcasts, ESPN also airs a variety of sports highlight, talk, and documentary styled shows. These include:


  • John Skipper: President, ESPN, Inc.[7]
  • Sean Bratches: Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing[8]
  • Christine Driessen: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer[9]
  • Ed Durso: Executive Vice President, Administration[10]
  • Charles Pagano: Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer[11]
  • Norby Williamson: Executive Vice President, Programming[12]
  • Russell Wolff: Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International[13]
  • John Wildhack: Executive Vice President, Production
  • John Kosner: Executive Vice President, Digital and Print Media
  • John A. Walsh: Executive Vice President and Executive Editor

In popular culture[edit]

ESPN has been a part of popular culture since its inception. Many movies with a general sports theme will include ESPN announcers and programming into their storylines such as in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, which gently lampoons the channel's multiple outlets by referencing the as-yet-nonexistent ESPN8, "The Ocho",[14] a reference to a nickname formerly used for ESPN2, "the Deuce"; the slogan for the network was "If it's almost a sport, you'll find it here!"; cyclist Lance Armstrong appears in a scene and says he loves the channel. In the film The Waterboy, Adam Sandler's character Bobby Boucher has his college football accomplishments tracked through several fictional "SportsCenter" newscasts including the "Bourbon Bowl". Page 2 columnist Bill Simmons often jokes that he is looking forward to running a future network; SportsCenter anchors appeared as themselves in music videos by Brad Paisley (I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)) and Hootie and the Blowfish (Only Wanna Be With You); and the 1998 ABC series Sports Night was based on an ESPN-style network and its titular, SportsCenter-analogue flagship sports results program. Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell's character from the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, fictitiously auditions for a position on SportsCenter just days before the network's launch in 1979, and fails miserably. He then claims that the idea (of a 24 hour sports network) will never become popular, and will be a financial and cultural disaster (claiming it's as ridiculous as a 24-hour cooking network or an all music channel). This was originally shot as a SportsCenter piece celebrating ESPN's 25th anniversary in 2004, and was subsequently included as an extra on the Anchorman DVD.

Many jokes have been made by comedians about fake obscure sports that are shown on ESPN. Dennis Miller mentioned watching "sumo rodeo", while George Carlin stated that ESPN showed "Australian dick wrestling". One of several Saturday Night Live sketches poking fun at the network features ESPN2 airing a show called Scottish Soccer Hooligan Weekly, which includes a fake advertisement for "Senior Women's Beach Lacrosse". SNL also parodies ESPN Classic with fake archived obscure women's sportscasts from the 1980s such as bowling, weight lifting and curling, with announcers who know nothing about the sport, and instead focus on the sponsors which are always women's hygiene products. In the early years of ESPN, Late Night with David Letterman even featured a "Top Ten List" poking fun at some of the obscure sports seen on ESPN at the time. One of the more memorable sports on the list was "Amish Rake Fighting". A recurring skit on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon named Sports Freak-Out! is a parody of SportsCenter's overexcited anchors.

An occasional joke in comedic television and film involves people getting ESP (an abbreviation for Extrasensory Perception, and an irony considering ESPN was initially supposed to be named "ESP") confused with ESPN, often including someone saying something along the lines of "I know these kind of things, I've got ESPN". Electronic Arts in the early 1990s used to have a faux sports network logo on their sports games called EASN (Electronic Arts Sports Network), but soon changed to EA Sports after ESPN requested that they stop using it. There are at least 22 children named after the network.[15][16][17]


Main article: Criticism of ESPN

ESPN has received accusations of biased coverage, conflicts of interest, and controversies with individual broadcasters and analysts.

Network slogans[edit]

  • The Total Sports Network (1979–1985)
  • The Number One Sports Network (1985–1991)
  • All Sports, All the Time (1991–1994)
  • America's No. 1 Sports Network (1994–1998)
  • The Worldwide Leader in Sports (1998–present)


A wide variety of national sports networks, as well as networks dedicated to a single sport, have surfaced in recent years.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Geography lesson: Breaking down the bias in ESPN's coverage,, August 15, 2008.
  2. ^ Seidman, Robert (August 23, 2013). "List of How Many Homes Each Cable Networks Is In – Cable Network Coverage Estimates As Of August 2013". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved August 25, 2013. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ ESPN Yakkers Go HD Next Week September 20, 2010.
  6. ^ "The HD Experience" (PDF). ESPN. Archived from the original on March 9, 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  7. ^ James, Meg (23 November 2011). "John Skipper is promoted to ESPN president". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "SEAN R. H. BRATCHES Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing". ESPN. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  9. ^ "CHRISTINE F. DRIESSEN Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer". ESPN. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  10. ^ "EDWIN M. DURSO Executive Vice President, Administration". ESPN. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  11. ^ "CHUCK PAGANO Executive Vice President, Technology". ESPN. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  12. ^ "NORBY WILLIAMSON Executive Vice President, Studio and Remote Production". ESPN. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  13. ^ "RUSSELL WOLFF Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International". ESPN. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Movie Preview: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Entertainment Weekly. April 21, 2004. Retrieved July 30, 2008. 
  15. ^ Parents name baby after ESPN, Joe Montana, NBC Sports, October 9, 2006.
  16. ^ "Texas toddler at least third named ESPN". ESPN. June 16, 2006. 
  17. ^ Hiestand, Michael (February 7, 2006). "Lampley nearing most-called Olympics". USA Today. Retrieved June 9, 2008. "ESPN says it's heard of at least 22 babies named ESPN" 


  • Miller, James Andrew; Tom Shales (2011). Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-04300-7. 

External links[edit]