|Fate||lost its last major college sports conference in 2015 except for one minor college sports conference (MAAC) and transformed into a sports planning division.|
Ohlmeyer Communications Corporation
ESPN Regional Television
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina, United States|
|Pete Derzis (general manager/senior vice president)|
|Services||Regional Sports Planning (formerly Television syndication)|
|Parent||The Walt Disney Company (80%)
Hearst Corporation (20%)
ESPN Events is an American sporting event planning division that is owned by ESPN Inc. ESPN Inc. is a joint venture between the Disney–ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company (which owns a controlling 80% stake) and the Hearst Corporation (which owns the remaining 20%). ESPN Events is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and shares its operations with ESPNU. The corporation organizes sporting events for broadcast across the ESPN family of networks, including, most prominently, a group of college football bowl games and in-season college basketball tournaments.
The company was founded as Creative Sports, a sports programming syndicator that merged with Don Ohlmeyer's Ohlmeyer Communications Corporation Sports (OCC Sports) in 1996. After ESPN purchased the merged company, the division was renamed ESPN Regional Television (known on-air as ESPN Plus until 2008).
Most of ESPN's syndicated broadcasts had been presented under the on-air name ESPN Plus. However, the brand has since been phased out from its productions in favor of conference brands, such as SEC TV and the Big 12 Network. The unit produced sporting events for syndication on broadcast stations, regional sports networks; these telecasts were also available on the ESPN GamePlan and ESPN Full Court out-of-market sports packages. ESPN largely exited the syndication business by 2015, moving its conference sports broadcast to dedicated cable networks.
The company traces its history to Creative Sports, Inc., a North Carolina-based sports syndicator owned and founded by Bray Cary. ESPN Inc. purchased Creative Sports, Inc. and OCC Sports, Inc. in the mid-1990s.
ESPN Regional Television was formed in 1996, through ESPN Inc.'s combination of Creative Sports and OCC Sports, under the direction of Chuck Gerber and Loren Matthews. On March 12, 1999, ESPN Regional Television was incorporated in New York.
In January 2000, Loren Matthews left ESPN Regional Television for an executive position at sister division ABC Sports. By February 2000, ERT acquired the production rights to the Arena Football League; this included responsibilities for AFL broadcasts on The Nashville Network, which had ESPN retain duties for the events in lieu of its own unit, World Sports Enterprises. In 2001, ESPN Regional Television moved beyond broadcasting college football bowl games, when it purchased the Las Vegas Bowl.
In August 2008, ESPN Regional Television secured a 15-year broadcast rights agreement with the Southeastern Conference, assuming the conference syndication rights from Raycom Sports. ERT syndicated games involving the conference's team under the "SEC Network" brand; through the deal, some SEC games also began airing on ESPNU beginning in 2009, as well as on ESPN and ESPN2 under the "SEC on ESPN" brand.
In 2015, ESPN mostly exited the terrestrial syndication business and integrated its remaining properties into its cable networks and into its online services, WatchESPN and ESPN3. ESPN Events remains active as an event organizer.
ESPN Events produces and syndicates broadcasts from the following conference:
- Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men's and women's basketball
ESPN Plus used to hold the rights to Conference USA football and basketball, Mountain West Conference football and basketball, and Big Ten Conference football and basketball, but has lost them as detailed below:
- American Athletic Conference men's college basketball (starting with the 2008 football season, under the old Big East contract; games were branded as Big East Network, later the American Athletic Network, with SportsNet New York as the flagship station)
- Big 12 Conference basketball (telecasts from the conference became branded under the Big 12 Network name beginning in the 2008–09 season) All Big 12 basketball games moved to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and the Longhorn Network after the 2013-2014 season.
- Conference USA – Broadcast rights were for regular-season football games (the C-USA Championship rights are held by CBS Sports Network and Fox Sports, which also holds rights to conference basketball games in conjunction with CBS). The American Sports Network, a competing college sports programming syndicator, began to syndicate other C-USA games with the 2014 season.
- Mid-American Conference basketball – Broadcast rights were assumed by SportsTime Ohio in 2010; Sportstime Ohio lost the rights to American Sports Network in 2015.
- Mountain West Conference – Broadcast rights to MWC football and basketball games are now held by CBS Sports Network and NBCSN (conference rights were previously held by the now-defunct MountainWest Sports Network).
- Big Ten Conference – Broadcast rights to Big Ten Conference football and basketball games not selected to air regionally or nationally on CBS, ESPN or ESPN2 are currently held by the Big Ten Network. ESPN Plus lost the Big Ten rights to the network when it launched in August 2007.
- Southeastern Conference (SEC) – Broadcast rights to SEC football and basketball games not selected to air regionally or nationally on CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU were assumed by the SEC Network (owned by ESPN Regional Television parent ESPN) starting with the 2014 football season and the 2014-15 basketball season, as part of a new 20-year contract between the SEC and ESPN that resulted in the creation of the network. The conference rights were previously held by Raycom Sports, and before that Lincoln Financial Sports (formerly Jefferson Pilot Sports from 1987 to 2009), before becoming produced by ESPN Plus (under the syndicated SEC Network brand, rebranded as SEC TV in 2013).
- Sun Belt Conference football and men’s basketball (telecasts from the conference are branded under the Sun Belt Network name). The Sun Belt Network ceased operations in 2014.
- Western Athletic Conference - ESPN Plus broadcast WAC men’s and women’s basketball until 2014, when American Sports Network won those syndication rights, beginning with the 2014-15 season.
- Cara Capuano – Southeastern Conference sideline reporter (2009–2012)
- Paul Carcaterra – Big East Conference sideline reporter (2012)
- Doug Chapman – Mid-America Conference color commentator (2009–2012; alternating from 2010 onward)
- John Congemi – Big East Conference color commentator (2009–2011)
- David Diaz-Infante – Big East Conference color commentator (2012)
- Doug Graber – Mid-America Conference color commentator (2010–2012; alternating)
- Mike Gleason – Big East Conference play-by-play (2009–2011)
- Quint Kessenich – Big East Conference sideline reporter (2009)
- Eamon McAnaney – Big East Conference sideline reporter (2010–2011), play-by-play (2012)
- Dave Neal – Southeastern Conference play-by-play (2009–2012)
- Michael Reghi – Mid-America Conference play-by-play (2009–2012)
- Andre Ware – Southeastern Conference color commentator (2009–2012)
- Dave Armstrong – Big 12 Conference play-by-play (2010–2013)
- Dave Baker – Southeastern Conference play-by-play (2012–2013)
- Carter Blackburn – Southeastern Conference play-by-play (2010–2012)
- Barry Booker – Southeastern Conference sideline reporter (2012–2013)
- Joe Dean Jr. – Southeastern Conference sideline reporter (2010–2013)
- Reid Gettys – Big 12 Conference color commentator (2010–2013)
- Mark Gottfried – Southeastern Conference sideline reporter (2010–2011)
- Mike Gleason – Big East Conference play-by-play (2010–2012)
- Mitch Holthus – Big 12 Conference play-by-play (2010–2013)
- Stephen Howard – Big 12 Conference color commentator (2010–2013)
- Kara Lawson – Southeastern Conference sideline reporter (2011–2013)
- Dave Lamont – Southeastern Conference color commentator (2012–2013)
- Kyle Macy – Southeastern Conference sideline reporter (2012–2013)
- Bryndon Manzer – Big 12 Conference color commentator (2010–2013)
- Clay Matvick – Southeastern Conference color commentator (2010–2013)
- Dave Neal – Southeastern Conference color commentator (2012–2013)
- Chris Piper – Big 12 Conference sideline reporter (2012–2013)
- Brad Sham – Big 12 Conference play-by-play (2010–2013)
- Anish Shroff – Big East Conference play-by-play (2012–2013)
- Jon Sundvold – Big 12 Conference color commentator (2010–2012)
- Bob Wenzel – Big East Conference color commentator (2010–2013)
- Rich Zvosec – Big 12 Conference sideline reporter (2012–2013)
Through ERT's ESPN Events division, the group
owns and organizes sporting events for broadcast across the ESPN family of networks. ESPN Events organizes the following college football bowl games:
During opening week of the college football, ESPN Events organizes the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, an annual Historically Black College Football game showcasing a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). ESPN Events also runs two openering weekend games in the Football Bowl Subdivision; The Texas Kickoff played in Houston, Texas at NRG Stadium, and the Orlando Kickoff Played in Orlando, Florida at Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium.
ERT acquired its first bowl game in 2001, with its purchase of the Las Vagas Bowl from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The company moved into the area as it saw that some of their conference partners had teams that were qualified to appear in a bowl game, but with no bowl available to take them. By 2013, ERT had founded two new bowl games and purchased four additional games. (By 2015 and 2016, the situation had reversed, as ESPN Events had a glut of bowl games and there were now not enough bowl-eligible teams to fill the slots; instead of dropping bowls, the NCAA has allowed loopholes to ensure all the slots are filled, even by teams with losing records.)
ESPN Events operates the following bowls;
- Armed Forces Bowl
- Birmingham Bowl
- Bahamas Bowl
- Boca Raton Bowl
- Camellia Bowl
- Celebration Bowl
- Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
- Hawaiʻi Bowl
- Heart of Dallas Bowl
- Las Vegas Bowl (2001–present)
- New Mexico Bowl
- St. Petersburg Bowl
- Texas Bowl
During the College Basketball season, ESPN Events organizes: the Champions Classic played in a different city annually; The Armed Forces Classic, the Jimmy V Classic and the Jimmy V. Classic Women's. Tournaments operated by ESPN Events include: Charleston Classic in South Carolina the Puerto Rico Tip-Off held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, NIT Season Tip-Off, the Wooden Legacy in Fullerton, California; the AdvoCare Invitational held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando; and the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. Most games in these tournaments are televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU; games not on TV are aired on ESPN3
College marketing division
The company's success with college tournament operation and broadcasting led ESPN Regional Television to form a college marketing division, which provides colleges all-in-one services for selling sponsorships, local media rights and other marketing campaigns. The University of South Florida, the University of Kansas and the University of Oregon are some of the clients that the division began representing in 2000.
- Erik Spanberg (February 21, 2000). "ESPN's secret weapon". Charlotte Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- "ESPN REGIONAL TELEVISION, INC.". Entity Information. NYS Department of State. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- Alicia Jessop (January 5, 2013). "ESPN's Path to Becoming a Bowl Game Owner and Redefining Bowl Game Operations". Forbes. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- Jon Solomon (August 25, 2008). "ESPN, SEC reach 15-year, $2.25 billion pact". AL.com. Alabama Media Group. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
- "SEC Network timeline: The conference's journey to its own television channel". AL.com. Alabama Media Group. April 15, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
- "Big 12 Men's Basketball Television Frequently Asked Questions". Big 12 Conference.
- “Big 12 Network syndication coverage concludes after tournament semifinals”. Clones Confidential (Fan site of the Iowa State Cyclones), March 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
- “Big 12 Network to Tune Out After Conference Tournament”. Kansas City Star (March 12, 2014).
- “Sinclair’s American Sports Network to Air MAC Football, Basketball Games”. Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
- "About the SEC Network". SEC Network.
- WAC Announces American Sports Network Broadcast Schedule for 2015-16
- Brent Schrotenboer (December 11, 2012). "The Windfall Bowl: Pay for bowl directors keeps rising". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
- Jon Solomon (August 19, 2013). "Montgomery lands ESPN-owned bowl between Sun Belt and MAC". al.com. Alabama Media Group. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
Raycom Sports (before merger of the Big 8 and SWC)
|Syndication Rights Holder to the Big 12 Conference
(under Big 12 Network branding, 2008-2014)
|Syndication Rights Holder to the Big Ten Conference
Big Ten Network (cable-exclusive)
Raycom Sports (before the merger of the Metro and Great Midwest Conferences)
|Syndication Rights Holder to the Conference USA
American Sports Network
|Syndication Rights Holder to the Southeastern Conference
2009-2014 (under SEC TV branding)