Press Releases

Corporate Announcements

ESPN, Inc.: 2008 in Review

By     

Posted on

In 2008, ESPN enjoyed another exceptional year, driven by strategic acquisitions, major rights agreements and innovative new services.  In a year when multiplatform became a common buzzword in the industry, ESPN clearly demonstrated its unsurpassed leadership in presenting more content through more connections to more consumers around the globe.  The core domestic television business continued to thrive and set numerous ratings records.  Key growth areas – digital and international efforts – along with traditional TV and radio platforms, were bolstered with wide-ranging agreements:  new acquisitions, including the Bowl Championship Series (2011 – 2014), tennis’ US Open (2009 – 2014) and the 2009 World Baseball Classic – as well as renewals with expanded rights such as the SEC, golf’s Open Championship,Wimbledon, IndyCar and the WAC.

In theU.S., ESPN aggressively expanded its long-established digital sports leadership with a landmark extension of its agreement with Major League Baseball Advanced Media featuring increased rights.  In addition, video, community, fantasy games and mobile platforms were expanded to reach record numbers of fans in creative ways while a redesign of ESPN.com was readied for January 2009.

ESPN International continued to expand its presence across media, and was very active online, debuting ESPN360.com in Europe,MexicoandBrazil.  The acquisition of Racing-Live.com continued a string of strategic additions to ESPN’s core offerings.  ESPN Classic (in 110 countries) and NASN (62 countries) – soon to be rebranded ESPN America – are now seen in 24.5 and 14.5 million homes, up from 23 and 11 a year ago, respectively.

“ESPN continued to use the universal language of sports to serve fans, rightsholders, distributors and advertisers around the globe with the best portfolio of sports content, technology and leading platforms,” said George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, and co-chairman, Disney Media Networks.

INTERNATIONAL 

  • ESPN International spans over 190 countries and territories on all seven continents and includes television, wireless, interactive, print, radio, broadband, event management and consumer products.  TV networks number 45 in 16 languages, with over 200 million subscribers.  In addition to the debut of ESPN360.com in Europe, Mexico and Brazil, the acquisition of Racing-Live.com and the growth of ESPN Classic and NASN, the year included many launches in Central and South America:  in Mexico, ESPN The Magazine launched as the only general sports monthly magazine in the country and Santander ESPN Credit Card became the first ESPN-branded credit card outside the U.S., while in its continued commitment to offering local content, ESPN launched ESPN+ Andina as a regional service for Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

 

CONTENT & TECHNOLOGY

  • ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic & ESPNEWS combined to average a record 1,139,000 homes (24-hour basis) with many records and successes, including cable’s most-watched series of 2008, Monday Night Football, and most-watched telecast ever (MNF, Sept. 15).
  • Including ESPN Deportes (rated since spring), a record 220 million Americans – 76% of the population – watched ESPN networks in the fourth quarter (92% of cable homes).
  • Including ESPN on ABC, in fourth quarter a record 250 million Americans – 86% of the population – watched ESPN content on TV.
  • Surveys of cable operators by Beta Research Corp. ranked ESPN and ESPN2 the top two major ad-supported cable nets in perceived value.  ESPN was #1 for the eighth consecutive year, and for the fourth year in a row operators considered ESPN the most important network in selling broadband or interactive TV services.  ESPN was also #1 in Beta Corp.’s survey of subscribers.  ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPN were the top three among men 18+.
  • ESPN, now in 98 million homes, posted its most-watched year, and second and third quarters, and September was its most-watched month ever.

Monday Night Football generated 13 of cable’s top 15 household audiences in 2008, topped by thePhiladelphia –Dallas game, cable’s biggest audience ever (12.95 million homes, 18.6 million viewers).

SportsCenter expanded in August with six live hours every weekday morning and grew its average monthly audience three percent to 100 million viewers.

NASCAR provided ESPN five of its biggest six household audiences ever for motorsports, including the top three.  In just three months (August 27 – November 18), 127 million people (45% of Americans) watched NASCAR on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

New highs for average audience were set for the NBA playoffs, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, NASCAR race (Brickyard 400), college football bowl season, regular-season college basketball game (Tennessee at Memphis, men’s), Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby, the NBA playoffs and Draft Lottery, the College World Series, the X Games and Winter X Games and documentary (Black Magic, surpassed later in the year by The Greatest Game Ever Played).  ESPN also garnered the two biggest audiences in cable history for golf – the US Open Playoff and Friday’s telecast coverage of its inaugural Masters coverage.

  • ESPN2:– Now reaching 97.6 million homes, the network posted its most-watched first and second quarters ever.

NASCAR’s Nationwide Series broke the mark set in last year’s debut season as ESPN2’s highest-rated series, and posted its most-watched race (Feb. 16 – 2,430,000 homes).

ESPN2’s morning lineupMike & Mike at 6 a.m. followed by FirstTake at 10 a.m. increased its audience 18%.

Set records for average audience for college football season, IndyCar telecast; Wimbledon coverage; and non-World Cup soccer match (UEFA Euro 2008 semifinal,Russia vs.Spain).

  • ESPN on ABC’s ratings for the NBA playoffs were up 49%, with the six games of the Finals the top-rated and most-watched television programs for the month of June while the Belmont Stakes was seventh, up 156% over 2007 with an 8.2 rating.  The newly expanded two-day Breeders’ Cup aired across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 was a success, delivering 19,776,000 million viewers, up 62% from last year (12,237,000).  The college football season saw increases over 2007 with the Saturday primetime series remaining a strong performer, making the network #1 for night nine times among households and viewers.  NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup delivered 10 solid ratings equal to last year’s debut season.
  • ESPNEWS grew eight percent to 67.8 million homes, debuted in HD in March, set a viewership mark for the month every month January – May and posted its most-watched day (Nov. 15) and show (Jan. 13).
  • ESPN Classic, seen in 63.3 million homes, premiered fights from Showtime’s extensive boxing library, presented 14 “Instant Classics” including the memorable Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final, and the previously untelevised five-overtime basketball thriller between Baylor and Texas A&M using the radio broadcast and jumbotron footage.  Sunday night movies began airing commercial free, and live programming included Danica Patrick’s victory in theJapan 300, the first Indy Car race won by a woman.
  • ESPNU HD debuted in August.  Enhancing its relationship with college students, a new initiative, the ESPNU Campus Connection, incorporates student-generated content across multiple ESPN platforms.  Also, a simulcast of ESPN Radio’s mid-day The Herd with Colin Cowherd debuted.  The network also secured a distribution agreement with Suddenlink and NCTC (National Cable Television Cooperative), increasing its distribution to more than 22 million households.
  • ESPN Deportes took great strides in serving Spanish-speakingU.S. sports fans, expanding distribution in key markets to reach nearly 40% of the U.S. Hispanic multichannel universe.  Early Nielsen ratings were strong, in particular the Euro 2008 soccer tournament and the net topped allSpanish-languageU.S. sports nets every month.  ESPN Deportes Radio added nine affiliates and now covers more than 42% of the U.S. Hispanic population.
  • More fans spent more time on ESPN.com than ever before in 2008.  Per month, total minutes were up 32 percent and unique users were up 16 percent, according to Nielsen Online.  The site averaged more than 119 million video streams per month and logged almost 50 percent of the total minutes for the entire sports category in 2008, more than three times the nearest competitor.  The popular Digital Original series Mayne Street starring Kenny Mayne debuted, as did the weekly original program MMA Live.  ESPN Digital Media recorded a clean sweep of all three broadband categories in the Sports Emmy Awards.  Participation in ESPN Fantasy Football grew 30% year-over-year (66% growth since 2006) and ESPN Fantasy Baseball grew 33% this season (12X growth since launching a free league manager game in 2006).  Additionally, the site launched free “league manager”-style versions of ESPN Fantasy Basketball and ESPN Fantasy Hockey games, leading to 11X growth and 10X growth in participation, respectively.
  • ESPN360.com, ESPN’s broadband sports TV network, delivered more than 3,000 live, global sports events in its first full year.  Distribution grew to more than 24 million homes, up 40 percent year-to-year and more than triple just two years ago.  More than 40 programming deals were completed in 2008 that were either for or included ESPN360.com, adding or extending deals for MLB, SEC football and basketball, US Open tennis, The Masters, Football League and Carling Cup soccer, Serie A soccer, Asia Cup Cricket, Rugby League World Cup and many more.  It was also made available at no cost to approximately 18 millionU.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks (those with “.edu” and “.mil” domains).
  • ESPN Radio provides more than 9,000 hours of talk and event content to nearly 750 stations reaching more than 20 million listeners each week. In September, 24/7 on-demand programming options for FM HD multicast sports channels debuted.  July’s annual “Don’t Give Up ESPYs V Foundation Auction” set a record by raising $1,130,314 for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  The Belmont Stakes was broadcast for the first time in June.  Unique visitors to ESPNRadio.com were up 20% from 2007 and each month, more than one quarter million listeners tune in to the live radio/video stream.
  • ESPN RISE was created as an umbrella for high school sports content and initiatives; identified as an untapped area and an important avenue for future growth. It was created from key acquisitions:  SchoolSports, Inc. (magazines, events, Risemag.com), Hoopgurlz.com (focused on high school girls’ and college women’s basketball) and Student Sports, Inc. (StudentSports.com, DyeStat.com, and more than 160 events).  ESPNRISE.com was launched, powered by a combination of acquired resources, ESPN.com and ESPN Scouts, Inc.
  • ESPN Regional Television (ERT), the nation’s largest syndicator of college sports programming, will see that role bolstered in 2009 as the new over-the-air syndication home of SEC football and basketball.  It also continues to flourish as a television sports marketing, syndication, event management and production company.  ERT created two new events: college football’s magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl and the Charleston Classic, a bracket-format men’s college basketball tournament.  ERT programming includes football, basketball, NCAA events, The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards, golf and NHRA events – more than 2,200 live and/or original hours of programming.
  • ESPN Content Development opened 2008 in a big way with the highly rated New Year, No Limits: New Year’s on ESPN. The group continued its push into new genres with its first Original Digital series, Mayne Street on ESPN.com, and announced Homecoming, a series of athlete-returning-home specials, as well as a new daily studio show SportsNation.  ESPN Films launched with the critically acclaimed Black Magic, followed by a four-film slate highlighted by The Zen of Bobby V, honored as a Tribeca/ ESPN Sports Film Festival selection.  The unit will develop up to 10 branded documentaries on ESPN and ESPN2 per year and theatrical motion pictures, plus “30 for 30,” a series of 30 films celebrating the last 30 years in sports timed with ESPN’s 30th anniversary.
  • ESPN The Magazine celebrated its 10th anniversary with another rate base increase (to 2.0 million) and extraordinary growth in its style/fashion advertising category – 78%.  In support of the company’s focus on digital media, ESPNTheMag.com was launched.  ESPN Books released nine titles, and entered into a publishing agreement with Ballantine Books to jointly publish 10-12 books annually; the first book was A Team To Believe In by New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin in September.
  • Consumer Products extended its brands into footwear, handheld games, school supplies and outdoor recreational categories.  ESPN Home Entertainment released 15 new titles and extended its reach in collaboration with ESPN Deportes with the launch of JC Chavez aboutMexico’s famed boxer.  ESPN-co-branded Total Access Visa credit card grew 58 percent during its second year and awarded its one billionth reward point.
  • ESPN Mobile extends ESPN content across wireless devices, including the industry’s most-trafficked sports content wireless site (WAP) with users up 33% over 2007; ESPN MVP, with up-to-the-minute scores and news, plus personalization; live video and audio and more than 100 daily on-demand video and audio clips; games; messaging-based alerts; and a library of ESPN-themed ringtones and wallpapers.  ESPN content from ESPN Mobile Products is available through licensing agreements with every major domestic wireless carrier and in more than 35 countries.  It also includes ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN’s first 24/7 wireless channel, available on MediaFLOUSA and MobiTV.  It offers a selection of 1000 live sports events and breaking sports news and analysis.
  • The eight ESPN Zones hosted media- and consumer-friendly events, such as Ultimate Couch Potato (expanded to includeNew York because of the success inChicago) and the inaugural Sports Spelling Bee (all locations).  ESPN Zone also went mobile in 2008, incorporating a site to allow Blackberry, iPhone and PDA users access to the MVP Priority Seating system.  In January, a secondLos Angeles facility will open, in the LA LIVE complex.

SALES & MARKETING

  • Named the Multiplatform Sales Team of the Year for 2008 by min (Media Industry Newsletter).
  • Named #1 in Beta Survey of advertising and media executives for knowledge and expertise of online sales force; providing creative/innovative multi-platform opportunities; and providing strategies to retain audience during commercial breaks.
    • Extended exclusive single-advertiser sponsorship opportunities for SportsCenter internationally, and, for the first time, an advertiser was the sole sponsor of SportsCenter domestically as well as acrossLatin America
    • Led industry in multiplatform sales – of all deals of $2 million or more, 70% included at least one medium other than TV.
    • Doubled advertisers for ESPN’s Mobile Web site – the #1 mobile sports web site – to 75.
    • Launched a Fantasy Football iTV application with Verizon Fios.
    • Kicked off Internet Syndication strategy, securing deals with AOL, Veoh, Bebo and ABC-owned stations

OWNED EVENTS

  • The X Games and Winter X Games again set viewership records:  Winter X Games 12 averaged 863,000 homes, up 17% from 2007, and of the eight telecasts, six were among the top ten most-viewed in Winter X history.  The final night was the most-viewed ever (1,117,000 HHs, based on a 1.2 rating).  X Games 14 was ESPN’s most-viewed X Games among households, men 18-49 and men 25-54 and ABC’s X Games 14 was up 14% in households. The first five minutes of X Games 14 aired live simultaneously on ESPN in theU.S. and across 12 ESPN International networks reaching 125 countries.  OutsideU.S. borders, two successful X Games were held.  X Games Brazil made its debut inSao Paulo in April, attracting more than 90 world-class action sports athletes and 45,000 fans.  X Games Mexico returned toMexico City in September, drawing a crowd of more than 27,000.
  • The ESPYS, hosted by Justin Timberlake, enjoyed a 14% increase in audience, to an average of 2,245,000 homes.
  • BASS, celebrating its 40th anniversary, qualified the first woman for the Bassmaster Classic in the event’s 38-year history.  Its web traffic grew 77%, and the organization was recognized by the Paralyzed Veterans of America for corporate leadership.  The new ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series – six high-profile events – will air in 2009 on ESPN2 and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes, its first outdoors programming.

TEAM ESPN

  • Team ESPN employee volunteers donated more than 14,000 community service hours in the U.S.and international employees volunteered numerous hours to support community service projects in their locales.  To support The V Foundation for Cancer Research, ESPN employees helped raise $3.3 million in 2008.

2008

Jan.       1       Motocross star Robbie Maddison breaks the world record for a motorcycle jump live from Las Vegas on New Year, No Limits: New Year’s on ESPN, jumping  322 feet, 7.5 inches (old record:  277 feet).  The telecast earned a 3.6 rating.

13        ESPNEWS registers its most-watched show ever.  The Blitz (8 – 8:30 p.m. ET) averages 327,000 homes after day’s NFL playoffs.

14        ESPN.com enters into an agreement with Major League Gaming (MLG), the leading professional video game league, to serve as a primary outlet for MLG news, plus exclusive streamed matches.

14        ESPN invests in NBA China, a new entity that will conduct all of the league’s businesses in Greater China.

24-27     Winter X Games 12 is the most-watched ever, up 17% from 2007.

26        ESPN and The Masters announce expanded digital coverage, supplementing 2008’s first-ever ESPN coverage with live streaming of all ESPN telecasts on ESPN360.com, extensive highlights and live coverage on ESPN.com and more.

27        ESPN is rated number one by cable operators in perceived value for the eighth year in a row in Beta Research Corp.’s survey, with a value higher than any network ever received.  ESPN2 ranked second for the third straight year.

March    3       ESPN Films is established, to present scripted and documentary film projects for TV and theatrical release, including “30/30,” a series of 30 films celebrating the last 30 years in sports, timed with ESPN’s 30th anniversary in 2009.

8       ESPN’s most-watched men’s college basketball game,North Carolina – Duke, with 3,830,000 households (based on a 4.0 rating).

24        HoopGurlz.com is acquired, the foremost web site focused on high school girls’ basketball and college women’s basketball on a national basis.

30        ESPNEWS HD debuts with a new look for the network, a new set, new graphics, animation and music.

31        ESPN2 and ESPNEWS conclude their most-viewed first quarter ever.  ESPN’s 24-hour audience is up 15%.

April       7       ESPN International announces the launch of NASN on the SKY Italia platform and syndication of ESPN programming on Sky Sport in Italy, the 40th country NASN reaches.  It is ESPN International’s largest HD syndication deal.

7       Dick Vitale is elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

8       ESPN.com will make short-form videos (highlights and segments from original programming) accessible directly through AOL Video and AOL Sports, the first time ESPN has syndicated video content through an Internet portal.

10-11  ESPN’s first Masters is a huge success on TV and online.  Friday’s second round is cable’s most-watched golf telecast (record broken June 16).

17        ESPN and Wimbledon announce a new six-year agreement with expanded rights for multimedia platforms, ESPN Deportes and ESPN International.

27        X Games Brazil concludes its first visit toSao Paulo where more than 44,000 fans attended the event, the first International X event aired in theU.S.

28        April concludes as the most-watch April for ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS.

28        ESPN Deportes becomes a nationally measured network by Nielsen.  The next day, the network draws a 3.8 rating for the UEFA Semifinal betweenBarcelona and Manchester United.

28        ESPN wins seven Sports Emmy Awards, including in all three “New Approaches” categories for online and broadband entries.

May        1       NASN debuts in Turkey, its 43rd country, and ESPN Classic launches inSouth Africa and 45 other nations inAfrica.

5       ESPN Australia HD debuts, ESPN’s first international HD service, with content produced specifically for the Australian sports fan.

12        ESPN and the USTA announce a six-year agreement for extensive TV and digital coverage of the US Open, giving ESPN all four of tennis’ Grand Slams.

15        ESPN RISE is announced as a multimedia high school sports content initiative to  grow ESPN’s 12- to 17-year-old audience, while providing compelling high school sports content across all platforms including tv, digital, publishing and events.

19        The NBA Draft Lottery is ESPN’s highest-rated and most-watched ever (2.1 rating, representing 2,010,000 households).

30        The NBA Playoffs conclude as ESPN’s most-watched (3,149,000), up 38% vs. 2007.  The 3.3 rating is a 41% increase (21 games in ’08, 17 last year).  During the playoffs, visits to ESPN.com’s NBA content was up 57%.

June      1       NASN and ESPN Classic launch on ART (Arab Radio & Television), reaching 19 countries in theMiddle East.

4       ESPN and Ballantine Books enter an agreement to publish 10-12 sports titles annually, ranging from celebrity titles to non-fiction to reference.

11        ESPN acquires Student Sports, Inc., a premier high school-focused digital media and event production company.  Core assets include StudentSports.com and DyeStat.com, and more than 160 events.

16        ESPN’s coverage of the first two hours of the 18-hole U.S. Open playoff between Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods is cable’s most-watched golf telecast, an average of 4,055,000 homes, based on a 4.2 rating.  The day was also the most-viewed in ESPN Mobile TV history.

17        The six-game NBA Finals’ 9.3 rating is up 51% from the 6.2 for 2007’s four-game series.  ABC “won the night” all six nights and was the most-watched network for the week in the key adult demos.  Online traffic to ESPN.com’s NBA content nearly doubled from last year.

25        The College World Series ends as ESPN’s most-viewed ever, with household impressions up 27% over 2007

29        ESPN Deportes’ exclusive Spanish-language coverage of the Germany-Spain EURO 2008 Final drew the service’s largest audience to date – a 10.1 Hispanic household rating (357,000 households, 647,000 Hispanic viewers).

30        June was ESPN360.com’s biggest month ever, three million video streams and average time viewing exceeds three hours (5x industry average).  Boosted by the U.S. Open, Euro 2008, Asia Cup (cricket) andWimbledon, it posted the 10 most-watched events since re-launching as live-event network in September 2007.

July        9       ESPN The Magazine Mexico is announced and goes on sale as the only general monthly sports magazine in that country, produced in conjunction by ESPN and Grupo GW with locally relevant content.

14        The State Farm Home Run Derby – at Yankee Stadium in its final season – averages a 6.4 rating and 6,184,000 households, the most-viewed Derby ever as  ESPN wins the night – cable and broadcast – among viewers and key male and adult demos in the highest-rated and most-viewed ad-supported cable program in 2008 to date, up 29% vs. the 2007 Derby.

15        The ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic, a Team ESPN event inCalif., raised $1 million in net proceeds for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  ESPN Radio’s “Don’t Give Up” ESPYs V Foundation Auction also raised $1 million.

16        The ESPYS, hosted by Justin Timberlake, enjoyed a 14% increase in audience, to an average of 2,245,000 homes for the June 20 telecast.

27        The NASCAR Sprint Cup Allstate 400 at the Brickyard averaged 4,889,000 households, the most ever for a motorsports event on ESPN.

31 – Aug. 3  ESPN’s X Games telecasts are the network’s most-watched ever, an average of 988,000 homes, while the games feature five new events and a record purse.

August  4       ESPN acquires Racing-Live.com, the leading independent motor racing website, showcasing Formula 1, Rally, Moto GP, Endurance and Kart racing.  It has over three million unique users a month, with content in English, French, Japanese, Italian, German and Spanish.

7       ABC, home to the Indianapolis 500 for 44 years, will continue to air the race through 2012, in an agreement that also includes four other IRL races annually.

11        SportsCenter debuts live weekday morning editions, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET.

21        ESPN and Major League Baseball Advanced Media expand their agreement through 2013 with rights for ESPN.com, ESPN360.com, ESPN’s mobile initiatives, content on video game consoles, interactive television and portable devices with worldwide rights (except select Asian and Pacific Rim markets).

25        ESPN and the SEC announce a landmark 15-year deal incorporating cable and subscription TV, ESPN on ABC, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN International and ESPN Deportes for more than 5,500 events (football, men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports).

26        ESPNRise.com launches as a news, information and community resource for high school athletes, representing the confluence of multiple acquisitions and initiatives by ESPN over the past 18 months.

28        ESPNU HD launches.

Sept.      3       ESPN and the Western Athletic Conference reach an agreement to extend their current contract for rights across multiple platforms an additional seven years through 2016-17.

15        Monday Night Football (Philadelphia at Dallas) draws cable’s biggest audience ever – 12,953,000 homes, based on a 13.3 rating.

25        In Orlando, Disney’s extensive sports complex is branded ESPN Wide World of Sports, with plans for added signage, technological enhancements and an expanded lineup of events.

Oct.        2       North American Sports Network (NASN) will become ESPN America, ESPN’s first branded live television channel inNorth Europe.

7       ESPN will present multimedia coverage of the World Baseball Classic in March 2009, including ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN2, ESPN2 HD, ESPN Deportes, ESPN International, ESPNEWS, ESPNEWS HD, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile Properties and more.

21        ESPN360.com launches inGreat Britain, with free news, highlights, analysis and interviews from the NHL, MLB, NFL, golf, tennis and X Games, along with subscription packages for live event programming.

Nov.       3       Disney, ESPN Media Networks and the NCTC, announce a comprehensive, multi-year agreement for distribution of a wide range of programming, networks and services – ESPNU, and the HD versions of ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ESPNU.

13        ESPN and The R&A, organizer of The Open Championship (The British Open), reach an eight-year agreement that places all four rounds live on ESPN beginning in 2010, plus broad digital rights, expanded TV and digital media rights for ESPN International, and extensive same-day weekend highlights on ABC.

18        ESPN and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) announce exclusive TV, radio, digital, international and marketing rights for 15 games January 2011 –  January 2014 (Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls each season and the BCS National Championship Game in 2011, 2012 and 2013).

Dec.       3       ESPN inks an eight-year agreement to cover the Women’s British Open beginning in 2010 live on ESPN, plus same-day Sunday encore coverage on ABC; broad digital rights and more.

20        The inaugural magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl, owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, debuts. South Florida defeatsMemphis 41-14.

22        Monday Night Football closes its third season on ESPN once again as cable’s most-watched series, with 13 of the year’s 15 biggest cable household audiences, including an all-time record.

23        ESPN Interactive Television announces that in 2009 it will offer products to allow viewers to interact with the network via their remote control, to create customized data feeds and participate in on-screen voting and polling.

29        For the fourth quarter, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS & ESPN Deportes, combined to reach a record 220 million Americans – 76% of the population (92% of cable homes).  Including ESPN on ABC, the number rises to a record 250 million Americans – 86% of the population.

29        For the year, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic & ESPNEWS combined to average a record 1,139,000 homes (at any time, 24-hour basis).

-30-