If you are an avid sports fan, chances are you probably get your fix watching shows on ESPN. For nearly 40 years now, ESPN has provided total sports entertainment to fans everywhere. With its coverage of various sports events in many languages, the cable sports network gives anyone a complete sporting experience.
This being said, it is but fitting to look back on the famed sports network’s journey to success.
ESPN’s Success Story
The sports channel was the brainchild of former New England Whalers communications director Bill Rasmussen. In 1978, after being fired from The Whalers, Rasmussen conceived the idea for a cable sports network. He and his son Scott, who was also fired from The Whalers, went on board the project that would later be known to the world as Entertainment and Sports Programming Network or ESPN.
The initial challenge for the Rasmussens was to put up an office and broadcast facilities to put their concept to action. They first rented a small space in Plainville, Connecticut. However, the plan was put on hold because of a local ordinance prohibiting the installation of satellite dishes on building rooftops. The father and son team then decided to move their headquarters to neighboring Bristol, Connecticut where the station still maintains its headquarters until today.
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The following years involved painstaking negotiations to secure program rights for the NCAA. The Rasmussen’s needed this one big break to jumpstart the newborn company’s operation – and it came. In 1980, ESPN finally acquired the rights to cover the early rounds of the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament which prompted the TV event called “March Madness”.
Another big break came ESPN’s way when the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) purchased 100% of ESPN from the Rasmussen’s and partner Getty Oil. With the involvement and influence of a media giant such as ABC, ESPN was able to finally secure major sports contracts and in effect, increased the network’s credibility.
From that time on, ESPN has seen tremendous expansion and growth in operations. Debuting in 1992, the network launched ESPN Radio which enjoyed positive receptions from its audience. In 2004, following the network’s aggressive international expansion in the early 90’s, ESPN penetrated the European market with its version of ESPN Classic. The network also put up a domestic channel for its United Kingdom and Ireland followers after the successful acquisition of the rights to the Barclays Premiere League matches.
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Today, ESPN commands a steady following of sports fans around the world. Being offered in many languages, the cable sports channel was able to cater to sports fans everywhere.
The Secret Formula
Most people would say that brilliant ideas hit you in a snap. In the case of the Rasmussens, that “snap” came during a heated discussion in the middle of a Connecticut traffic jam. No one would have predicted the big things that would be coming the Rasmussens’ way from that fateful in-car debate.
Looking back, ESPN’s journey to being the biggest cable sports network has been a rollercoaster ride of sorts. The Rasmussens have had a fair share of speed bumps and hurdles before actually making it bigtime. One could say that the secret formula for the network’s enormous success was the father-and-son tandem’s vision and unwavering perseverance to make their dreams cross reality. Sure, the network may have found itself in the middle of controversies, but the impact ESPN has managed to leave on the face of sports entertainment is outweighs any allegations hurled against the network.
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Still the Worldwide Leader in Sports
Going on its 40th year, ESPN has become an influential character in the world of sports programming. Its constantly innovative way of delivering sports news to its audience has been the network’s most formidable weapon. Furthermore, its diverse menu of program offering targets sports fans of any kind. With all these and more, it’s needless to say that the network has truly lived up to its slogan of being the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”