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|ESPN logo since 1985|
|Launched||September 7, 1979|
|Owned by||ESPN Inc.
(The Walt Disney Company–80%
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Slogan||The Worldwide Leader In Sports|
ESPN on ABC
210 Alternate feed (SD)
210-1 Alternate feed (HD)
|Dish Network||140 (SD/HD)
145 147 148 Alternate feeds
|Available on most cable systems||Check local listings for channels|
|Verizon FiOS||Channel 70 (SD)
Channel 570 (HD)
|AT&T U-Verse||Channel 602 (SD)
ESPN is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming. Its name derives from "Entertainment and Sports Programming Network".
Founded by Bill Rasmussen, his son Scott Rasmussen and Aetna insurance agent Ed Eagan, it launched on September 7, 1979, under the direction of Chet Simmons, the network's President and CEO (and later the United States Football League's first commissioner). The Getty Oil Company provided funding to begin the new venture via executive Stuart Evey. John Skipper is ESPN's current president, a position he has held since January 1, 2012.
ESPN's signature telecast, SportsCenter, debuted with the network and aired its 30,000th episode on February 11, 2007. ESPN broadcasts primarily from its studios in Bristol, Connecticut. The network also operates offices in Miami; New York City; Seattle; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Los Angeles. The Los Angeles office, from which the late-night edition of SportsCenter is now broadcast, opened at L.A. Live in early 2009.
While ESPN is one of the most successful sports networks, it has not been free from criticism. This criticism includes accusations of biased coverage, conflict of interest, and controversies with individual broadcasters and analysts.
ESPN launched its 720p high-definition simulcast, originally branded as ESPNHD, on March 20, 2003. All Bristol and L.A. Live studio shows, along with most live events on ESPN, use high definition. ESPN is one of the few networks with an all-digital infrastructure. Shows recorded elsewhere—such as Jim Rome Is Burning (Los Angeles) are presented in a standard definition, 4:3 format with stylized pillarboxes. Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn began airing in HD on September 27, 2010.
ESPN and all of ABC and Disney's cable networks use the 720p HD line standard because ABC executives proposed a progressive scan signal that resolves fluid and high-speed motion in sports better, particularly during slow-motion replays.
In 2011 ESPNHD began to downplay its distinct logo in promotion in preparation for a shift of its standard definition-feed to letterboxed widescreen, which occurred on June 1, 2011.
On January 5, 2010, ESPN announced that it would launch a new 3D television channel, ESPN 3D. The network launched on June 11, 2010, with coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. During its first year, ESPN projected that it would air around 100 events in 3D within its first year.
Originally, ESPN 3D only aired simulcasts of 3D events from other ESPN channels, but on February 14, 2011, the network switched to a 24 hour format with repeat airings of past 3D events.
Alongside its live sports broadcasts, ESPN also airs a variety of sports highlight, talk, and documentary styled shows. These include:
||This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2011)|
ESPN has been a part of popular culture since its inception. Many movies with a general sports theme will include ESPN announcers and programming into their storylines (such as in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, which gently lampoons the channel's multiple outlets by referencing the as-yet-nonexistent ESPN8, "The Ocho", a reference to a nickname formerly used for ESPN2, "the Deuce"; the slogan for the network was "If it's almost a sport, you'll find it here!"; cyclist Lance Armstrong appears in a scene and says he loves the channel). In the film The Waterboy, Adam Sandler's character Bobby Boucher has his college football accomplishments tracked through several fictional "SportsCenter" newscasts including the "Bourbon Bowl". Also, ESPN.com Page 2 columnist Bill Simmons often jokes that he is looking forward to running a future network; SportsCenter anchors appeared as themselves in music videos by Brad Paisley (I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)) and Hootie and the Blowfish (Only Wanna Be With You); and the 1998 TV series Sports Night was based on an ESPN-style network and its titular, SportsCenter-analogue flagship sports results program. Also, Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell's character from the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, fictitiously auditions for a position on SportsCenter just days before the network's launch in 1979, and fails miserably. He then claims that the idea (of a 24 hour sports network) will never become popular, and will be a financial and cultural disaster (claiming it's as ridiculous as a 24-hour cooking network or an all music channel). This was originally shot as a SportsCenter piece celebrating ESPN's 25th anniversary in 2004, and was subsequently included as an extra on the Anchorman DVD.
Many jokes have been made by comedians about fake obscure sports that are shown on ESPN. Dennis Miller mentioned watching "sumo rodeo", while George Carlin stated that ESPN showed "Australian dick wrestling". One of several Saturday Night Live sketches poking fun at the network features ESPN2 airing a show called Scottish Soccer Hooligan Weekly, which includes a fake advertisement for "Senior Women's Beach Lacrosse". SNL also parodies ESPN Classic with fake archived obscure women's sportscasts from the 1980s such as bowling, weight lifting and curling, with announcers who know nothing about the sport, and instead focus on the sponsors which are always women's hygiene products. In the early years of ESPN, Late Night with David Letterman even featured a "Top Ten List" poking fun at some of the obscure sports seen on ESPN at the time. One of the more memorable sports on the list was "Amish Rake Fighting". A recurring skit on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon named Sports Freak-Out! is a parody of SportsCenter's overexcited anchors.
A common joke in comedic television and film involves people getting ESP (an abbreviation for Extrasensory Perception, and an irony considering ESPN was initially supposed to be named "ESP") confused with ESPN, often including someone saying something along the lines of "I know these kind of things, I've got ESPN". Electronic Arts in the early 1990s used to have a faux sports network logo on their sports games called EASN (Electronic Arts Sports Network), but soon changed to EA Sports after ESPN requested that they stop using it. There are at least 22 children named after the network.
ESPN is often accused of having a bias towards certain teams, including those in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), particularly the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels. ESPN and the ACC have a rights deal that extends through the 2026-27 season which provides additional football, men's and women's basketball and Olympic sports coverage on a variety of platforms, suggesting the bias may have a financial motivation.
It is also commonly accused of having bias towards the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, among other teams, when airing highlights and games. Red Sox-Yankees games are common on ESPN Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday night baseball broadcasts.
ESPN has been criticized for not reporting a taped recording of Bernie Fine's wife apparently acknowledging that she knew her husband may have molested children,  particularly because ESPN ran a number of articles criticizing Joe Paterno for not taking enough affirmative action to report Jerry Sandusky's alleged child abuse. 
National Sports Networks
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