History

Our history is packed with trailblazing feats that have transformed the industry time and time again. Click on a decade to learn about the cool things we did to become today’s worldwide leader in sports entertainment.

  • 1979

    1979

    At 7 p.m. ET on Sept. 7, ESPN launches with SportCenter's premiere show, live from the ESPN studio.

  • 1980

    1980

    ESPN becomes a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week service on September 1, 1980.

  • 1983

    1983

    ESPN begins to distribute programming internationally.

  • 1984

    1984

    ABC completes acquisition of ESPN from Getty Oil. Later, 20% is sold to Nabisco, and that share is later bought by Hearst.

  • 1987

    1987

    ESPN airs the America's Cup live from Australia and is awarded NFL's first cable contract.

  • 1989

    1989

    ESPN debuts the first of many variations of "MiniCams" with the "CrewCam" at a NASCAR Winston Cup race.

  • 1992

    1992

    ESPN launches ESPN Radio.

  • 1995

    1995a

    ESPNET SportZone launches on the web and later becomes ESPN.com.

  • 1995

    1995b

    The X Games franchise debuts at Fort Adams State Park in Rhode Island.

  • 1996

    1996

    The Walt Disney Company completes acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., which owns 80% of ESPN.

  • 1998

    1998a

    ESPN The Magazine launches.

  • 1998

    1998b

    ESPN debuts "1st and Ten" – the computer-generated yellow line that appears on the field to indicate the location of a "first down."

  • 2001

    2001a

    "K-Zone" debuts on Sunday Night Baseball, accurately outlining the strike zone and pitch location. In 2002, it wins a Sports Emmy Award for Innovative Technical Achievement.

  • 2001

    2001b

    ESPN Deportes debuts as a year-round, Sunday night offering.

  • 2003

    2003

    ESPN launches its high-definition simulcast – ESPN HD.

  • 2005

    2005

    ESPN launches Deportes Radio.

  • 2007

    2007

    Player Tracking debuts during the MNF regular-season opener. Using a GPS chip in players' shoulder pads, ESPN displays visual trails on replays to show player routes.

  • 2008

    2008

    ESPN adds an unprecedented seven high-speed cameras for Monday Night Football, including three 120 frame per second super slow-motion cams and two 300 frame per second super slow-motion cams.

  • 2009

    2009a

    ESPN's Los Angeles Production Center opens and debuts as the new home of weekday 1 a.m. ET SportsCenter.

  • 2009

    2001b

    EA SPORTS and ESPN win an Emmy for the EA Playbook, an on-air "augmented reality" that allows ESPN's NFL analysts in the studio to interact with and give insight about key plays to the virtual players from EA SPORTS video games.

  • 2009

    2009c

    To test new gear and emerging technology (robotic cameras and 3D telecasting), ESPN builds a lab staffed by Ph.D. professors and some of the biggest brains in science. The Lab, located in Walt Disney World, is helping ESPN lead the way in technological advances now and into the future.

  • 2011

    2011a

    ESPN, the University of Texas and IMG College announce a 24-hour network dedicated to UT, offering more than 200 exclusive sporting events annually, original series, studio shows, historical programming, and academic and cultural happenings.

  • 2011

    2011b

    The WatchESPN app launches, allowing smartphone and tablet access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN3.com for the first live, streaming cable channels available in the U.S. on mobile devices.

  • 2012

    2012

    ESPN hits the mark of producing 30,000 hours of live programming across multiple platforms.

  • 2013

    2013a

    ESPN's SportsCenter app launches as the most popular free sports app.

  • 2013

    2013b

    ESPN is the #1 digital sports property in total minutes of usage, total visits, and monthly unique visitors.

  • 2013

    2013c

    ESPN On Demand Audio has more than 215.6 million downloads and is the most downloaded sports radio app.

  • 2013

    2013d

    ESPN becomes the #1 most-social cable television network, generating 82 million Social TV Tweets.

  • 2014

    2014a

    ESPN opens its doors to Digital Center 2, the company's largest building and the most sophisticated production facility in the world, which is the new home to SportsCenter and other studio shows.

  • 2014

    2014b

    ESPN launches SEC Network, part of a 20-year partnership with the most popular conference in college sports, with plans to air 1,000 collegiate events in its first year.

ESPN subscribers Major Milstones, 1998- 75m, 2005 90m, 2011 - 100m

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