When ESPN was founded during the 1970’s, there were many people that predicted it would not last. The country wasn’t ready for, and the market didn’t demand, a twenty four hour sports network. Those people were proven wrong long ago as ESPN has grown from a little known television station that was available on the relatively new cable television medium, to be a name that is synonymous with sports. From their broadcasts of live sporting events to the incredible amount of fame and following that their nightly SportsCenter programs have garnered, ESPN has truly become one of the most popular networks on television. That being said, here are five thing you may not know about ESPN.
1. The first live sporting event aired on ESPN when it debuted in 1979 was professional slow pitch softball.
2. When ESPN2 debuted in 1993, the hosts of the first show were future MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann and Suzy Kolber.
3. The first score reported on SportsCenter was the results of a women’s tennis match. It was reported by the duo of Lee Leonard and George Grande, the hosts of the first airing of SportsCenter.
4. The first President and CEO of the ESPN Network was Chet Simmons who would later become the first commissioner of the United States Football League (USFL).
5. The founder of the ESPN was William Rasmussen, in need of more funding for the launch, the Getty Oil Company bought a majority stake in the network shortly before it first aired.
It is hard to imagine in today’s culture a time in the United States of America when there wasn’t twenty four hour sports on television. From all the standard sports like football, auto racing, basketball, baseball, and hockey to the extreme sports that have gained in popularity over the last couple of decades, the market for sports is absolutely huge. Examining this market shows us that a network like ESPN is not going any where anytime soon. The founders of ESPN saw a niche in the mid-to-late 1970’s and they have not only gone on to fill that niche but have established the network as one of the signature television networks that the United States has to offer.