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ESPN, Inc.: 2006 in Review

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Each of ESPN’s four measuredU.S.television networks achieved its largest audience ever, yet ESPN’s 2006 may ultimately be defined by Monday Night Football’s record-breaking, multi-platform success, changing the conversation about how fans consume sports.  With growth overseas, online and in radio; plus expansion of the company’s presence in print, in consumer products and in owned events, ESPN enjoyed a year of remarkable results.  

With ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNEWS averaging a combined 1,368,000 households (up 13% vs. 2005) and setting numerous monthly and quarterly records along the way, a record 200 million Americans – 71% of the population – watched ESPN networks in the fourth quarter.  Moreover, in the quarter 88% of cable homes tuned to one of the ESPN networks.  In addition, in 2006 the company produced the most-watched shows on both broadcast and cable television, with Super Bowl XL on ABC and ESPN’s October 23 New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys MNF telecast, respectively.  The latter attracted cable’s largest household audience in history – 11,807,000 homes – helping MNF to rank as cable’s most-watched series in history.

 ESPN’s unmatched ability to engage fans every day wherever they are is best exemplified by the 111.5 million people who consumed MNF content either on TV or online and by the new franchise Full Circle, an innovative effort to cover an event across platforms and reach fans wherever they may be.  Importantly, this unique ESPN strength has been recognized by both content rightsholders and distributors.  Long-term agreements with both constituencies secured ESPN’s leadership position into the next decade.  In new media, ESPN continued to expand, aggressively leveraging its traditional media strengths and increasing ad revenue across multimedia outlets.           

“More than ever, in 2006 ESPN fulfilled its mission to serve sports fans both at home and abroad with exciting programming, passionate journalism and continuous innovation,” said George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks.  “With Monday Night Football the best example, the ESPN team continues to lead the industry with a creative drive, a love of technology, diverse offerings and the single goal to be at the center of wherever sports are consumed.”

CONTENT & TECHNOLOGY

MULTIMEDIA AGREEMENTS

            The heralded move of sports TV’s most-storied franchise, Monday Night Football from ABC to ESPN, led to increased ratings throughout the day and booming ESPN.com usage as ESPN’s new approach re-energized the property.  For the season, ESPN led all networks in delivery of the key male demographic groups in Monday primetime.  In addition, ESPN secured long-term, multi-media content agreements with the Big East, Big Ten, Major League Soccer and with Arena Football which included the acquisition of a minority stake in the league; the Belmont Stakes returned to ABC while the Breeders Cup debuted on ESPN.  The ESPN networks and ABC were home for a memorable FIFA World Cup, leading to acquiring the 2008 European Championship, as well as for the inaugural World Baseball Classic with ESPN Deportes’ exclusive Spanish-language coverage.  The ESPN on ABC branding debuted, and the new Saturday Night Football was a broadcast hit.  In 2007, NASCAR “comes home,” highlighted by the entire “Chase for the NEXTEL Cup” on ABC and season-long Busch Series racing on ESPN2.  This addition will give ESPN its strongest portfolio of programming ever.

PLATFORMS

  • ESPN television networks continue to grow in value to affiliates, viewers and advertisers. 
  • Surveys of cable operators and subscribers by Beta Research Corp. ranked ESPN and ESPN2 the top two major ad-supported cable networks in perceived value.  For the sixth consecutive year, operators ranked ESPN #1 in perceived value and in generating local ad sales. 
  • ESPN and ESPN2 set many viewership records:

Each of the four measured networks set a record for 24-hour household audience in 2006.

ESPN – posted its most-watched first, second, third and fourth quarter ever in total day and primetime (4Q being the most-watched quarter of all time), as well as its most-watched month ever (October) in total day and primetime.  The first week of the year was the network’s most-watched in history.

ESPN2 – in April became the fastest network to reach 90 million homes, and enjoyed its most-watched quarter (fourth), and most-watched first, second and third quarter.  January was the net’s most-watched month ever, until the record was broken in June.  Eight times the network set a record for the month’s audience.

Monday Night Football generated cable’s top 17 household audiences in 2006, and holds nine of the top 10 positions all-time, including #1 (excluding breaking news). 

SportsCenter – maintained its unquestioned position as the “gathering place” for fans and the sports industry with up to 88 million Americans tuning in monthly and a 16% increase in the audience for live editions vs. 2005.

NFL Draft – ESPN’s highest-rated (4.7).  A record 36 million people tuned in over two days.

NBA Playoffs – each of the three rounds ESPN covered were the highest-rated in the network’s four years of coverage, culminating with Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals (Miami-Detroit), the network’s highest-rated NBA game (5.5) and most-watched basketball game ever.

FIFA World Cup – ESPN’s audience was up 82% vs. 2002, topped by a 4.1 rating for the Germany-Italy semifinal, the network’s third-best ever for World Cup and best non-U.S. game.  ESPN2’s audience was up 88% vs. 2002 and the 2.4 rating for the U.S.-Czech game is ESPN2’s highest-rated soccer game ever and highest rating of 2006.  All games were produced in HD.

College Football – ESPN’s household audience was up 15% vs. 2005, with three of its four biggest audiences ever for regular-season games, topped byFloridaState –Miami (6,330,000).

Major League Baseball – ESPN games averaged 24% more homes than last year (1,109,000)

The ESPY Awards – record viewership (2,530,000 households)

Winter X Games 10 – averaged a record 747,000 households across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC

ESPN2’s new morning lineupMike & Mike at 6 a.m. followed by Cold Pizza at 10 a.m. – increased the audience for the eight-hour block 44% compared to last year.

  • ESPN on ABC presented the highest-rated college football game since 1987 with a 21.7 for the Rose Bowl; the highest-rated regular-season game since 1993 (13.0 for #1 Ohio State vs. #2 Michigan on Nov. 18); and the year’s most-watched broadcast, Super Bowl XL.  The NBA made ABC the top-rated network each night during the seven-game finals.  Saturday Night Football – the first weekly primetime college football broadcast series – boosted the time period household audience 24%.  The Belmont Stakes returned to ABC, and the 7.0 earned by the Italy-France World Cup Final was three times the 2002 rating.
  • ESPN Original Entertainment supplied more than 200 hours of original content for the company’s multi-media platforms, highlighted by the book/program/DVD Ali Rap.  Ratings successes included the ESPYs, X Games and Winter X Games, as well as The Contender, which moved to ESPN.  EOE also continued to move aggressively in acquiring documentaries – the critically acclaimed Through the Fire (Sebastian Telfair) and Once in a Lifetime (New York Cosmos).  A strong slate of upcoming original projects is headlined by The Bronx is Burning, an eight-episode series based on the 1977 New York Yankees starring John Turturro and Oliver Platt, and Sam Shepard in the horse racing drama Ruffian, to premiere on ABC.
  • ESPN Classic now reaches 63 million homes and for 27 straight months has seen year-to-year audience growth.  The first quarter was its most-watched ever, until the record was broken by the second and third quarter, when July was the net’s most-watched month ever.  New programming included the All Time Greatest and ESPN Classic Remembers series and an expanded Reel Classics lineup with Hoosiers, Major League, Raging Bull, Caddyshack and Days of Thunder.
  • ESPNEWS is seen in 53 million homes (up 18% in 2006) and posted its most-watched year, quarter (2Q, then broken in 4Q) and month (June, then broken in September and December) ever, and celebrated its 10th anniversary in November.  Programming changes include a year-round Football Friday, new all-afternoon College Football Overdrive on Saturdays and The Blitz on Sundays; and weekday evenings’ ESPNEWS PREGAME, ESPNEWS GAMETIME and ESPNEWS POSTGAME.
  • ESPNU celebrated its first anniversary and is already a leading college sports brand with 440 live events in 2006 (including more than 70 college football games), including 100 hours of NCAA Championship events.  New programming included SportsCenterU, ESPNU Coaches Spotlight, ESPNU Recruiting Insider and National Signing Day.  ESPNU.com was launched in August as the online gateway for college sports content from ESPN. 
  • ESPN HD is the most widely distributed high definition sports cable service in theUnited States.  Through cable and satellite distribution agreements, it is made available to more than 87 million homes and ESPN2 HD to over 50 million (up from 17.6 million in January).  The two combined for 6,500 hours of HD programming this year, including 95% of Bristol-based studio shows and more than 700 events in a growing lineup.
  • ESPN Regional Television (ERT), the nation’s largest syndicator of college sports programming, produced more than 900 events – more than 2,200 live and/or original hours of programming.  It added four new events, including two bowl games, theBirmingham and New Mexico Bowls.
  • ESPN PPV posted double-digit growth for ESPN GamePlan subscriptions on television and online. ESPN also continued to provide viewers with hundreds of college basketball games, content from EOE and SportsCenter and instructional offerings – all providing additional revenue opportunities to affiliates.  ESPNsoccernet.com and ESPNDeportes.com are offering all 125 UEFA Champions League matches to soccer fans (a first in theU.S.).
  • ESPN Radio is now heard by 11 million people weekly on 330 full-time affiliates and more than 700 stations overall covering 99% of the country; including 99 of the top 100 markets.  All three major franchises – Mike & Mike in the Morning, mid-day’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd and The Dan Patrick Show – reached new highs for affiliates.  The college bowl lineup grew from six to 16.  The Mike & Mike Marriage Madness contest in May saw 500 couples enter.  
  • ESPN.com, the leading sports web site every year since launch, set a new mark in its genre with 20 million users in September (equaled in October), boosted by the new “Monday Night Surround” supporting Monday Night Football, fantasy football and ESPNU.com (launched in August).  The animated Off Mikes captured the first New Media Sports Emmy.  The site launched three new key products – “PodCenter,” the MyESPN personalized start page, and a single interface for all video.  This gives fans a single source for all of ESPN’s broadband video services – ESPN Motion, ESPN360, and ESPN’s online pay-per-view services.  ESPN’s first offerings of sports video online at iTunes immediately led the category.
  • ESPN360 delivered more than 200 live events – including nearly 50 live college football games, 52 World Cup simulcasts, more than 50 college basketball games, 25 UEFA Champions League soccer matches, IRL racing, National Finals Rodeo and more.  It also featured more than 1000 hours of extended interviews and on-demand ESPN programming including Pardon The Interruption, The Contender and The World Series of Poker.  It is received in 15 million homes.  
  • ESPN Publishing comprises ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Books.  With 1.9 million circulation and its second National Magazine Award for General Excellence, The Magazine enjoyed a banner year, including its largest issue for pages and ad revenue.  ESPN Books released 12 titles in 2006, double the number from 2005, including Ali Rap by George Lois, Dingers! A Short History of the Long Ball by Peter Keating and Bill Simmons’ New York Times’ bestseller Now I Can Die in Peace. 
  • Consumer Products continued to expand, launching two key categories, licensed apparel/accessories and home/indoor recreation.  ESPN-, X Games- and BASS-branded products are now available at 7,500 retail outlets nationwide.  An ESPN credit card debuted, providing experiential sports and ESPN-centric rewards.  A long-term agreement with EA Sports placed ESPN integration within several EA titles, including MVP 06 NCAA Baseball, Fight Night Round 3, and NBA Live 07.  ESPN Home Entertainment reached agreement with Wal-Mart to retail all ESPN Home Entertainment DVDs, and signed Genius Products to be its exclusive distributor inNorth America.
  • Mobile ESPN‘s change in business model – from MVNO to licensed content – adds critically acclaimed features and an unrivaled content application to a growing suite of products available through Mobile ESPN Publishing, which offers ESPN content through all major domestic wireless carriers.  Products available include ESPN BottomLine Pro, messaging alerts, video, wireless games, ringtones, wallpaper, WAP sites and a variety of college sports products.  Distribution extends to more than 200 handsets, through 30 carriers, in 20 countries, on six continents and in four languages.  ESPN’s wireless Internet (WAP) site, the most popular wireless sports content site across US carriers, receives eight million unique visitors and 125 million impressions monthly.
  • ESPN Zones again attracted millions of guests in its eight locations of unrivaled sports-themed experiences, great food and interactive games.  With The Walt Disney Company’s announcement concerning new food guidelines giving parents and children healthier eating options, ESPN Zones modified all menus.  In addition, all televisions in Baltimore, Chicago andWashington,D.C., were converted to high definition and an online priority seating system was launched at all eight sites.

INTERNATIONAL

ESPN International continued to grow around the world and in Spanish in the U.S.via ESPN Deportes.

  • ESPN International spans 194 countries and territories on seven continents and includes television, wireless, interactive, print, radio, broadband, event management and consumer products.  With the launch of ESPN Classic in the UK, TV networks number 33 in 15 languages, with 200 million subscribers, including 50 million in Europe.  This year, the 10th local edition of SportsCenter debuted in Japan, with the 11th to launch inAustralia in January.  The purchase of NASN (a European network featuring North American sports) is to be finalized in 2007.  Singapore-based ESPN-Star signed an eight-year deal with the International Cricket Council.
  • ESPN Deportes expanded its programming, notably with a new deal for Venezuelan baseball, a new series of dominoes competition and all 39 games of the inaugural World Baseball Classic.  ESPN Deportes Radio, launched just last year, signed a long-term agreement to be the exclusive national Spanish-language radio network for NASCAR coverage starting next year.  Traffic at   ESPNdeportes.com grew 38% and it is ranked by users as the top Spanish-language sports site in the U.S.  ESPN Deportes La Revista, a monthly, Spanish-language sports magazine distributed in key HispanicU.S. markets, enhanced its content with three new columns and new sections on soccer in Central America and sports inPuerto Rico, and celebrated its first anniversary in August.

SALES & MARKETING

  • For the fourth straight year, ad execs voted ESPN #1 for brand image, providing creative marketing and promotion opportunities, desirable programming for advertising and audience demos.
  • Stewardship of ESPN Radio and sales responsibility for ESPN International, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Outdoors and ESPN Regional Television were added to ESPN’s industry-leading advertising portfolio.
  • Of all deals totaling $2 million or more, 60% included at least one medium other than television, up 10% from last year.
  • The Monday Night Football “Is It Monday Yet?” marketing campaign – the company’s biggest ever — featured spots specific to the day of the week, showcasing what each day represents through the eyes of an NFL fan, building a sense of anticipation based on the special aura of Monday Night Football.
  • The World Cup multimedia campaign, “One Game Changes Everything,” featured music and narration from Bono and super band U2. 

OWNED EVENTS

  • The X Games and Winter X Games set records for reach, exposure and attendance.  Winter X Games 10 viewing was up 45% from last year’s household average, setting an all-time record across the three networks – ABC, ESPN and ESPN2.  Attendance totaled nearly 70,000, up 92% from the first Winter X Games in Aspen in 2002.  Action included 28 athletes who competed in the Winter Olympics in Turin a month later.  X Games 12 was ESPN’s highest-rated ever among young men in the 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 age groups with a 5% overall household increase.  Attendance totaled 140,000; up 13% from last year. 
  • The ESPYS were hosted by Lance Armstrong, the first time an athlete filled the role, and attracted the highest audience (2,532,000 homes) in its 14-year history.  Content was distributed across ESPN360, ESPN Motion, ESPNEWS, Cold Pizza, ESPN Deportes and Mobile ESPN.
  • BASS introduced two ground-breaking tournament circuits, the Bassmaster Elite Series and Women’s Bassmaster Tour.  These innovative professional trails were warmly received by the fans and awarded more than $12 million to anglers.  The TV audience for the Bassmaster Classic was up nine percent. 

TEAM ESPN

  • Team ESPN corporate outreach includes numerous initiatives in employee volunteerism, corporate giving and cause marketing.  In 2006, the most money ever was raised for The V Foundation for Cancer Research – for the straight second year the amount topped $2 million, for a total of $60 million since its 1993 launch.   In addition, Team ESPN doubled employee volunteerism, introduced the development of a disability sports initiative and continued to assist the Walt Disney Company in its efforts to address youth obesity through ESPN Play Your Way, a youth fitness initiative. 

2006

Jan.       1       ESPN scores its highest-rated week ever (1.7), thanks to three bowl games earning more than a 5.0 and two NFL games.

               2       ESPN The Magazine raises its rate base to 1.9 million.

               3       ESPN content is the first sports video content available at iTunes Music Store, as part of a larger agreement with The Walt Disney Company.

               4       ABC’s BCS Championship from the Rose Bowl is the highest-rated college football game since 1987, up 59% from last year’s college title game.

               9       ESPN Classic Sport inEurope begins a Polish-language feed.

            10        ESPN.com and NBCOlympics.com announce an editorial collaboration and co-promotion of online coverage for the upcoming Winter Olympics, the first time a non-rights holding media company has Olympic video highlights.

            17        Scouts Inc. is purchased by ESPN.  The company analyzes high school, college and pro football players, and will expand to include basketball and other sports.

            17        ESPN ranks first for the fourth consecutive year in the Beta Research survey of advertising execs in brand image, viewer demos and desirable programming.

            28-31  Winter X Games 10 averages a record 747,000 households across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 (up 45% from 2005); with record usage on EXPN.com and ESPN360, plus first-ever distribution via Mobile ESPN and iPods.  Also, an agreement is announced to stay inAspen through 2010.

            29        ESPN2 and ESPN Classic register their most-watched month ever, and ESPN enjoys its most-watched January ever.  For Classic, it is the 16th consecutive month of year-to-year growth.

Feb.       1       ESPN2 HD is added to EchoStar’s DISH Network, giving the service a nationwide footprint.           

               5       Super Bowl XL on ABC Sports averages the second-most homes in television history (45,854,000), behind only the 1983 final episode of M*A*S*H.

               5       Mobile ESPN goes on sale nationwide in Best Buy stores.  

               8       Monday Night Football will debut on ESPN this fall with a new team – Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser in the booth with sideline reporters Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya.

               9       ESPN acquires a variety of rights from NBC, including live Friday coverage for four Ryder Cups (2008, 10, 12 and 14) and expanded video highlights for the Olympics through 2012, and for Notre Dame football, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and more through 2011.

            15        ESPN Deportes Radio, the 24-hour Spanish-language sports radio network, is added to SIRIUS subscribers on channel 181.

            28        ESPN is rated number one by cable operators in perceived value and generating local ad sales for the sixth year in a row in Beta Research Corp.’s survey.  ESPN Classic led in perceived value among mid-sized networks. 

March    4       ESPN Full Circle debuts – the UNC-Duke men’s basketball game is covered by all ESPN entities – and the combined ESPN/ESPN2 audience (3.78M homes) is the second biggest for college basketball in ESPN history.

            13        ESPN Classic launches inGreat Britain, ESPN’s first branded network in theU.K.  ESPN Classic is now seen in seven languages in 40 countries.

            26        ESPN and ESPN2 set records for first quarter viewership and ESPN Classic enjoys its most-watched quarter for the fifth straight quarter.

April       1       ESPN2 becomes the fastest network to reach 90 million homes – 150 months.  Also, ESPN Classic is now available in 60 million.

               3       ESPN International launches a Japanese version of SportsCenter on J Sports ESPN, the 10th local version outside theU.S., covering eight languages.

            10        ESPN.com launches PodCenter, a library of digital audio and video content from ESPN’s TV, radio and online outlets to download or play on computer.

     29-30         ESPN earns a record 4.7 rating for the NFL Draft and a new high of 36 million people watch some portion of the two-day event.

May        1       ESPN and ABC Sports win 13 Sports Emmy Awards, including ESPN.com’s Off Mikes winning the first-ever category for non-traditional platforms.

               9       ESPN The Magazine wins the National Magazine Award (NMA) for General Excellence, the industry’s most prestigious editorial honor.

            10        SportsTicker, purchased by ESPN in 1994, is sold to PA Sport, the world’s leading sports news and information provider.

            26        ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike’s Marriage Madness culminates with the first-ever wedding at ESPN, Catherine Bennett and Jason West, aired on ESPN2 HD, ESPN360 and Mobile ESPN.  Nearly 500 couples applied for the honor.

            28        ESPN cuts live to Barry Bonds’ at bat in San Francisco vs. Colorado and fans see the 715th home run of his career.

            28        May is ESPN Classic’s most-viewed month and its 20th straight with year-to-year household growth.  ESPN and ESPNEWS posted their most-watched May.

            31        The Miami-DetroitGame Five of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals is ESPN’s highest-rated NBA telecast ever, and most-watched basketball game (5.5 rating, 4,990,000 homes).

June      8       The NBA Finals begin and ABC wins each night of the six-game series among networks and represents six of the top nine programs June 8-20.

June   19        ESPN.com debuts its integrated online multimedia player, providing a single interface for all of its existing and future online video services, giving fans easy access to the Internet’s best sports video library.

            21        ESPN and the Big Ten announce a 10-year, multimedia agreement for football, men’s and women’s basketball and more, including more than 1000 events.

            25        ESPN and ESPN2 close the most-viewed second quarter for each for total-day  and prime time.  ESPN Classic and ESPNEWS each register their most-watched quarter ever, with Classic doing so for the sixth consecutive quarter.  June was the most-watched month ever for ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNEWS.

July        1       ESPNEWS now reaches 50 million homes.

               9       ABC’s 7.0 rating for the FIFA World Cup final, won byItaly overFrance, is the network’s third best for soccer since it resumed with World Cup in 1994 and three times the audience of the 2002 final.  The month-long event’s 64 matches provided great ratings for ABC, ESPN & ESPN2.

            9-20    SportsCenter’s 10-part “My Wish” series grants sports-related wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses, in collaboration with Make-A-Wish and Disney.

            16        The ESPYS, hosted by an athlete for the first time, Lance Armstrong, are seen in 2.53 million homes, the most ever.  The ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic raises a record $1.1 million for The V Foundation.

Aug.       4       ESPN and Soccer United Marketing announce an eight-year agreement (thru 2014) for the MLS on ESPN2 and ABC, plus extensive rights for ESPN International, ESPN Deportes and ESPN’s new media outlets.

            3-6      X Games 12 inLos Angeles — 18 hours on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC — is the highest-rated ever in key male demos, features the debut of Rally Car Racing and saw heavy traffic on ESPN Motion, ESPN360, EXPN.com and Mobile ESPN.

            10        ESPN announces “ESPN on ABC” will become the brand for all sports carried on the ABC Television Network beginning Saturday, Sept. 2.

            28        ESPNU.com launches as the gateway to all college sports content on ESPN.com, both consolidating and expanding the site’s college content.

 

            29        ESPN and the BIG EAST Conference reach new agreements for extensive coverage of football, basketball and more on numerous ESPN entities and ABC

Sept.      2       ABC debuts Saturday Night Football, the first weekly broadcast primetime college football series, earns a 5.4 rating, the highest-rated show on television that night.  Notre Dame defeated Georgia Tech.  A week later, #1OhioState’s victory at #2Texas earns a 8.2, the highest college football rating since 2000.

               4       ESPN averages 6,330,000 households forFloridaState atMiami, the network’s most-watched college football game ever, based on a 6.9 rating (second all time to a 7.7 for the same teams in 1994).

            11        The debut of ESPN’s Monday Night Football scores the network’s biggest audience ever and the second biggest in cable history (9,177,000 homes) forMinnesota atWashington.  Overall, including the programming surrounding the special doubleheader, was watched by 48 million people.  That day, ESPN.com recorded 36 million page views.

            24        ESPN Classic and ESPNEWS complete their most-watched quarter ever, and ESPN and ESPN2 post their best third quarter ever.  September was the best month ever for ESPNEWS.

            25        For the third straight week, ESPN breaks its audience record, with an average of 10,850,000 homes for the emotional return of the New Orleans Saints to the Superdome in a 23-3 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

            28        Mobile ESPN announces a shift in business plan, ceasing MVNO operations in the near future with plans to license its critically acclaimed applications to existing service providers.

            30        ESPN.com sets a record for monthly users – 20 million, nine percent more than September 2005.  In the month, the site records 10 of its busiest 17 days ever.

Oct.        7       For the second time, ESPN.com wins a coveted Online Journalism Award, in the category “Specialty Journalism” for ESPN Insider.

            11        ESPNEWS and ESPN Classic received high scores among men in perceived value, favorite channel, and importance to enjoyment of cable in Beta Research Corp.’s annual survey of digital subscribers.

            12        ESPN announces its NASCAR team when the sport returns in 2007, led by Jerry Punch in the booth with analysts Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree.

            23        ESPN records the largest household audience in the history of cable, an average of 11,807,000 homes for New York Giants at Dallas on Monday Night Football, breaking the mark set by the 1993 NAFTA Debate on CNN (11,174,000).

Nov.    18        ABC earns the highest regular-season college football rating on any network since 1993 with a 13.0 for #1OhioState vs. #2Michigan.

            21        ESPN networks are part of a long-term, comprehensive agreement between The Walt Disney Company and Comcast, the largest cable distributor, which includes Disney’s cable networks and owned stations, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD and the launch of ESPN Deportes.

            27        ESPN International announces the 11th version of SportsCenter beyondU.S. shores, a daily show inAustralia andNew Zealand to debut in January.

Dec.       4       The V Foundation becomes endowed, allowing for all new direct cash donations and net proceeds of events contributed to The V Foundation to be used to fund cancer research and related programs.

               5       ESPN International acquires NASN (North American Sports Network), the only European network dedicated to North American sports, with 800 events, including NFL, MLB, NHL and NCAA football and basketball.

               6       ESPN and ESPN2 top all major networks in perceived value among network viewers in Beta Research Corp.’s annual survey of cable subscribers.

               6       The Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival is announced, a multi-platform showcase for independent sports films, set to debut April 25 – May 5, 2007.

            11        ESPN acquires domestic, international and multimedia rights to the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship.    

            19        ESPN acquires a minority stake in Arena Football.  The five-year deal includes extensive multimedia rights involving 15 ESPN platforms, including at least 26 televised games annually.

            25        Monday Night Football concludes its first season on ESPN as cable’s all-time most-watched series (averaged 9,109,000 homes), and posted nine of the top 10 household audiences in cable history.

            30        The Alamo Bowl is seen by an average of 4,876,000 households, is ESPN’s most-watched bowl game ever (Texas 26,Iowa 24).

            31        Each of ESPN’s four measured networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNEWS) close its most-watched year, averaging a combined 1.2 million households on a 24-hour basis, up 16% from 2005.  In the fourth quarter (ESPN,  ESPN2 and ESPNEWS’ most-watched quarter ever), a record 200 million Americans (71% of the population) and 88% of cable homes tuned to an ESPN network.

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