Founded by Bill and Scott Rasmussen in 1979 • By 1983, it was cable’s largest network, reaching 28.5 million households. o In 1984, ABC bought 15 percent stake in the company, and then acquired control of the full rights six months later.


Background: • Founded by Bill and Scott Rasmussen in 1979 • By 1983, it was cable’s largest network, reaching 28.5 million households. o In 1984, ABC bought 15 percent stake in the company, and then acquired control of the full rights six months later. • After college football broadcasting rights were deregulated in 1984, ESPN started broadcasting Thursday and Saturday night games. These helped with their image and audience numbers obviously. • In the late 1980s, ESPN landed major contracts with the NHL, NFL, and MLB. o Additionally, they were expanding internationally into Asia, Latin America and Europe. • Disney purchased ESPN in 1995. Disney added several channels to the ESPN portfolio (ESPN 2, Classic, etc) o Additionally, ESPN launches ESPN magazine • Didn’t see much competition until 1998 when Fox Sports gave them significant competition for advertising dollars

Strategic Issues: • Skyrocketing costs of broadcasting live sports o As costs rise to broadcast America’s most popular sports the revenues generated have declined • Significant cost cutting initiatives – hundreds of employees laid off / fired • Profits are down due to a decline in subscription and viewership revenues • Rapidly shifting TV landscape o Millenials consume media in a variety of forms o Growing competition in the space (Netflix, Hulu, online streaming)



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