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Submitted by on Dec 9, 2021

ESPN is an American basic cable sports channel operated by ESPN Inc., which is jointly owned by The Walt Disney Company (80%) and Hearst Communications (the remaining 20%). Bill Rasmussen, together with his son Scott Rasmussen and Ed Egan, launched the firm in 1979.

ESPN is based in Bristol, Connecticut, and broadcasts mostly from there. In addition to Miami, New York City, Seattle, Charlotte, and Los Angeles, the network has offices in Miami, New York City, Seattle, Charlotte, and Los Angeles. James Pitaro has been the chairman of ESPN since March 5, 2018, following John Skipper’s departure on December 18, 2017. ESPN has been criticized despite being one of the most profitable sports networks. This covers accusations of biased reporting, conflicts of interest, and disagreements with specific broadcasters and experts.

ESPN is available in about 86 million television homes (93.2% of pay television households) in the United States as of September 2018.

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ESPN transmits in almost 200 countries, in addition to its flagship channel and seven sister networks in the United States. In AustraliaBrazil, Latin America, and the United Kingdom, it broadcasts localized channels. It has a 20% stake in The Sports Network (TSN) and its five sister networks in Canada.

Those Guys Have All the Fun, a documentary about ESPN’s origins and success, was released in 2011. Little, Brown and Company released the nonfiction book written by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. It debuted at the top of the New York Times Best Seller List for nonfiction hardcover books.

After being fired from the World Hockey Association’s New England Whalers in May 1978, Bill Rasmussen came up with the idea for ESPN. Finding property to build the channel’s broadcasting facilities was one of the first steps in Bill and his son Scott’s (who had also been let go by the Whalers) process. In Plainville, Connecticut, the Rasmussens rented their first office space. However, due of a municipal regulation preventing structures from having rooftop satellite dishes, the idea to station ESPN there has been put on hold.

Getty Oil, which had bought 85 percent of the firm from Bill Rasmussen on February 22, 1979, in an attempt to diversify the corporation’s assets, immediately identified available land area in Bristol, Connecticut (where the channel remains based to this day). This boosted the fledgling company’s reputation, but many skeptics remained about the sustainability of their sports channel plan. In the spring of 1979, ESPN secured an advertising deal with Anheuser-Busch, which paid $1 million to be the “exclusive beer advertised on the network.”

ESPN began broadcasting on September 7, 1979, with the debut telecast of SportsCenter, the channel’s main show. It was taped in front of a small live audience at the Bristol studios and broadcast to 1.4 million cable subscribers throughout the US.

ESPN’s next major break came when it secured the rights to broadcast coverage of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament’s early rounds. In March 1980, it showed the NCAA tournament for the first time, giving birth to the modern-day television event known as “March Madness.” Dick Vitale, who had just been sacked as head coach of the Detroit Pistons when he joined ESPN, got his start in broadcasting thanks to the channel’s tournament coverage.

ESPN began broadcasting the NFL Draft in April of that year, creating another another made-for-TV event. It gave comprehensive coverage of the event, allowing rookie college players to begin their professional careers in front of a national television audience in ways they had never been able to before.

In 1984, ESPN took another huge stride forward over the course of a few months. During this time, the Rasmussens and Getty Oil sold 100 percent of ESPN to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).

ESPN was unable to compete for television rights to major sporting events under Getty ownership because its majority corporate parent would not provide the necessary funding, resulting in ESPN losing broadcast deals with the National Hockey League (to USA Network) and NCAA Division I college football (to USA Network) (to TBS).

For years, the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball all declined to show part of their games on television. ESPN’s capacity to compete for large sports contracts rose significantly as a result of ABC’s support, and it gained reputation in the sports broadcasting business.

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