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, to outline the strike zone and pitch location, and wins 2002 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. A GPS chip in players' shoulder pads displays visual trails on replays.

  • 2008

    2008

    ESPN adds an unprecedented seven high-speed cameras for Monday Night Football, including three 120 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 to interact with virtual players.

  • 2009

    2009c

    To test new gear and emerging technology, ESPN builds a lab in Walt Disney World that's staffed with Ph.D. professors and some of the biggest brains in science.

  • 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.

  • 2011

    2011b

    The WatchESPN app launches, allowing smartphone and tablet users to access 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 — also, the new home to SportsCenter.

  • 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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