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ESPN, Inc.: 2009 in Review

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ESPN celebrated its 30th birthday in 2009 with a record year and stayed true to its heritage of serving fans with exciting content on the sports industry’s leading array of traditional and digital platforms.  The company also continued its strategic investment in technology and rights acquisitions while managing costs. 

Whether it’s ESPN TV, ESPN Audio, ESPN online/digital/mobile, ESPN in print (or any of the many ESPN owned events, Zones and more that were unimaginable the moment that first signal headed skyward in September 1979), each day millions around the world in 200 countries on every continent and in 16 languages engaged with ESPN.

Three decades of SportsCenter.  Three decades of growth and innovation.  Three decades of breaking barriers, and serving the fans.  Three decades of overcoming challenges and winning awards.  From the butt of jokes to the source of babies’ names. 

There have been plenty of things said about ESPN over 30 years, but for sports fans no comment rings more true than one 22 years ago (proving the company’s early impact, when it was “only” a TV channel).  In June 1987, Bob Verdi wrote in The Sporting News, “I can vaguely remember what civilization was like before ESPN, but I don’t care to re-live it.” 

Even at the “advanced age” of 30, ESPN remains an incredible innovator through technology and in the quality and scope of its content, bringing more great sports events and news to more fans in more ways than ever.  In 2009, that manifested itself with new programming in all media, new products online and in mobile services and on-screen enhancements.  The result?  The company set numerous records across platforms for viewing (including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN networks overall, numerous sport-specific records and cable’s most-watched telecast ever), listening and usage.  ESPN stayed ahead of the curve with smart investment and creativity, including the company’s first channel showing live local sports in the UK, the debut of local sports web sites in the U.S., and opening three major facilities – a production facility in Los Angeles as home of the weekday 1 a.m. ET SportsCenter and two labs, one for production innovations and another to better understand the emotional drivers of audience behavior and physiological reactions to advertising.

As always, the underlying theme to ESPN’s success was the determination, drive and creativity of its people.  This year, those qualities were brought to bear in the area of giving back.  In a year of major milestones – in addition to the company’s 30th anniversary, it was MNF’s 40th season and Sunday Night Baseball’s 20th – it was the generous spirit of ESPN employees that marked the occasion most significantly.  Upon ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the Team ESPN 30K Challenge – a goal of 30,000 hours of community service by ESPN employees – was not only reached, but exceeded.

“ESPN continues to set the standards in an increasingly competitive and complex industry, and among the many things we collectively achieved in 2009, I am particularly pleased about the Team ESPN 30k Challenge,” said George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, and co-chairman, Disney Media Networks.  “For so many to embrace the spirit of volunteerism and help those less fortunate in these difficult times is a testament to our people and a fitting way to celebrate our 30th anniversary.”

CONTENT & TECHNOLOGY

  • ESPN & ESPN2 each enjoyed their most-viewed year, with ESPN setting a new mark each quarter (4Q was its most-watched quarter ever) and both nets posting their most-viewed month ever in September.  Adding ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS and ESPN Deportes, ESPN networks combined to average a record 1,216,000 homes (24-hour basis) with many sport-specific records for series and telecasts (see below).  For the fourth straight year, a Monday Night Football game became cable’s most-watched telecast ever.
  • 219 million Americans – 75% of the U.S. – watched ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS & ESPN Deportes) in the fourth quarter (90% of cable homes).
  • Including ESPN on ABC, in fourth quarter 249 million Americans – 85% of the nation – 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 ninth consecutive year, and for the fifth 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 for the fourth consecutive year.  ESPN and ESPN2 ranked first and second in programming quality and perceived value among men 18+.
  • Program acquisitions and renewals were highlighted by the Bowl Championship Series beginning in January 2011– the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls, in addition to the Rose Bowl already on the company’s shelf, along with the BCS Championship Game.  Tennis’ US Open came to ESPN2, giving the network a Grand Slam of all four majors.  Other deals included the British and Women’s British Opens (2010), plus continuing coverage of the NHRA, Western Athletic and Mid-American Conferences and the World Series of Poker.
  • ESPN, now in 99.1 million homes, set numerous viewership records in its most-watched year:

Monday Night Football generated cable’s top 15 household audiences in 2009, topped by Green Bay at Minnesota with Brett Favre (Oct. 5, 15.136 million homes with an ESPN record rating of 15.3).  For the year, the MNF audience was its most since moving to ESPN, up 19%.

SportsCenter was watched by 6% more fans this year, and is seen by as many as 104 million people per month.

NASCAR Sprint Cup ratings improved on ESPNthe only rightsholder to make that claim – and in just three months (August 27 – November 18), 129 million people (44% of Americans) watched NASCAR on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. 

New highs for average audience were set for the NBA season and playoffs, NFL Draft and Monday Night Countdown, college football game (USC at Ohio State) and College GameDay, the Heisman Presentation, NCAA Basketball Championship Week, Masters golf, Monday Night Countdown (series and telecast), college football bowl and bowl season, College World Series and CWS game, the X Games and Winter X Games.    

  • ESPN2:– Now reaching 98.8 million homes, set numerous viewership records during its most-watched year, including College World Series, college football season and game (Pittsburgh at West Virginia), NCAA women’s basketball season and Wimbledon.  NASCAR’s Nationwide Series remained ESPN2’s highest-rated series ever while the addition of tennis’ US Open provided a huge boost in September, including the network’s top two most-viewed tennis telecasts.
  • ESPN on ABC saw its NBA ratings increase and won the night all five nights of the NBA Finals.  The Rose Bowl was the highest-rated bowl game aside from the BCS National Championship and the Belmont Stakes – which received a prestigious Eclipse Award from the NTRA – was higher rated than the prior two races with no Triple Crown at stake.  Saturday Night Football remained a strong franchise and made ABC the #1 network for the night among households and key male demos seven times during the season.  The Big 12 Championship Game (Texas edging Nebraska) was the most-watched ever. 
  • ESPNEWS is now in 70.8 million homes, and HD viewership, which debuted in 2008, rose 40%.  It posted its most-viewed July, and with growing popularity for Saturday afternoon college football programming (viewership nearly doubled over 2008) – taking viewers live to games as teams approach the end zone – ESPNEWS posted its most-viewed day ever (Sept. 26).
  • ESPNU tripled its distribution to 65.8 million homes and its programming was enhanced, in part thanks to the new SEC agreement.  Ratings measurement began in October and is promising.  The network’s studio programming debuted in HD this year, joining the event coverage which began high definition telecasts in 2008.
  • ESPN Classic, seen in 60.6 million homes, focused on returning to is roots with an expanded lineup of classic events from MLB, NBA, college football and basketball, NASCAR, NHL and boxing.  Also, classic programs returned to the lineup, including Wide World of Sports, The Joe Namath Show, The Way it Was hosted by Curt Gowdy, Sports Challenge hosted by Dick Enberg and Woodie’s World hosted by Heywood Hale Broun.  An extensive lineup of programming reviewing the past decade aired in late December.
  • ESPN Deportes grew its household base 23% in 2009, now reaching 47% of U.S. Hispanic multichannel households.  With a year-plus of ratings now in the books, the network is clearly establishing itself as the source for sports news and events for Spanish-speaking U.S. sports fans.  Its 24-hour audience nearly doubled in the year, and is more than the next two Spanish sports networks combined, trailing only one other Spanish-language network of any kind.  Leading the way is La Liga, the highest-rated soccer series in Spanish-language cable with a 2.0 coverage rating, topped by a 10.9 for Barcleona vs. Real Madrid, the network’s best-ever rating and the highest for European soccer ever on any Spanish-language cable network.  ESPN Deportes Radio now includes 35 stations (up from 29 last year) in 29 markets, reaching 47% of the U.S. Hispanic audience.
  • A busy year for ESPN.com started with a redesigned home page with a cleaner design, richer video experience, and enhanced Scoreboards, personalization and advertising.  Later in the year, the focus was on localization, with sites launched specific to sports in Chicago, Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles, to be followed by New York in 2010 and more.  Usage was up 12 percent vs. 2008 and continued to lead all sports sites.  Subscriptions to ESPN Insider also grew 10 percent.  Audio and video downloads remained robust – the site logged nearly 44 percent of all online sports video viewed, nearly double the nearest competitor.  Fantasy sports continued to grow in popularity, with participants up 35 percent, including growth in all 30 games offered.  In addition, Disney Media Networks including, ESPN, launched multiple ad-supported channels on YouTube with short-form content.
  • ESPN360.com doubled its distribution to more than 50 million homes and continued to expand its lineup of live broadband sports (3,500 events in 2009), leading to usage more than doubling (up 112 percent).  September was its most-viewed month ever – 250 percent more hours than a year earlier.  Dozens of programming deals were finalized, including the rights to carry the top five Euro soccer leagues, all four of tennis’s major tournaments, The Masters and U.S. Open golf and college football and basketball.
  • ESPN Mobile – ESPN’s industry-leading collection of mobile web sites, apps, games, alerts and video (ESPN Mobile TV and Video on Demand clips) – expanded in the fast-emerging mobile content space. ESPN was overwhelmingly the leading mobile Web sports site (reaching more than three times the audience of the nearest competitor) and the eighth most-trafficked site on the mobile web in 2009.  Each month, ESPN’s site captured nearly two-thirds of the users seeking sports on the mobile Web, averaging 8.93 million unique visitors a month, a 35 percent increase over the same period a year ago.  ESPN Mobile launched numerous apps, including ESPN ScoreCenter, which has been downloaded more than 4.5 million times and is the top free sports App in the Apple iTunes App Store, plus ESPN Radio, ESPN World Cup, ESPN Fantasy Football and more.  ESPN Mobile delivered more messages and alerts to more fans than ever – nearly 900 million alerts, up 170 percent vs. 2008.  The number of fans signing up for alerts increased 117 percent.  Unique viewers of on-demand ESPN Mobile video increased 87 percent and total minutes spent viewing on-demand mobile video increased 106 percent.  ESPN Mobile TV, the 24/7 mobile sports television network available on the FLO TV and MobiTV platforms, added originally produced 30-minute ESPNEWS blocks throughout the day and delivered nearly 850 live events, leading to total minutes viewing rising 186 percent.
  • ESPN Radio presents the best in sports talk, news and events (MLB and World Series, NBA and The Finals, BCS Bowls, Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and more) to 750 stations nationwide, supplemented by an expanding digital distribution.  This includes online streaming (ESPN Radio is the most-listened-to live stream in the world), podcasts that are among the most popular on iTunes and the universally acclaimed new ESPN Radio iPhone app.  These efforts increasingly incorporate offerings from major affiliates.  July’s annual “Don’t Give Up ESPYs V Foundation Auction” again raised more than $1 million for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. 
  • ESPN Regional Television (ERT), the nation’s largest syndicator of college sports programming, increased its footprint with the launch of the SEC Network (covers 63% of U.S. for football, basketball TBD) and added to the lineup of events it operates with the Cancun Governor’s Cup (eight men’s basketball teams, debuts Dec. 2010) and the Texas Bowl (Dec. 31, 2009) while renewing multiyear agreements to continue associations with its other six bowl games.  Numerous event title sponsorships were either renewed or added.
  • ESPN Content Development earned recognition and praise with a diverse slate of creative content for ESPN’s TV and online platforms.  ESPN Films’ Kobe Doin’ Work set the stage for the ambitious and critically acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series – 30 one-hour films covering a variety of well-known and unknown sports stories from the past 30 years from the likes of Barry Levinson, Albert Maysles, Ron Shelton and Morgan Freeman televised through 2010.  The fall slate closed with The U, which became ESPN’s highest-rated documentary.  ESPN2’s fan-centric weekday SportsNation brought an innovative and interactive approach to sports.  The song “I Love Sports” written for and performed at The 2008 ESPYs by host Justin Timberlake received a primetime Emmy Nomination.
  • ESPN The Magazine generated much attention, debate and sales (best newsstand seller in two years) with its first “Body Issue” issue in October, celebrating athletes of diverse shapes, sizes, genders and races within ESPN’s boundaries of taste, and frontiers of creativity, further distinguishing it from the competition.  Also, The Mag merged its website with ESPN Insider.  ESPN Books released 10 titles in fiscal 2009 under the joint imprint Ballantine and ESPN Books, highlighted by Bill Simmons’ The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy, which debuted at no. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
  • ESPN RISE – a multiplatform initiative targeted toward high school athletes – continued to grow its brand in its first full year after launch with two nationally televised events – ESPN RISE National High School Invitational and ESPN RISE Games in which more than 4,000 young athletes participated.  The ESPN RISE magazine increased its circulation to one million.
  • The seven ESPN Zones, providing top-notch, sports-themed dining and fun, continued to drive business with a variety of media- and consumer-friendly events, such as Ultimate Couch Potato competition (with N.Y. and Chicago joined by Baltimore) while all locations again held Spelling Bees for adults.  ESPN Zones also entered the Twitterverse, utilizing the popular social media tool Twitter to engage local sports enthusiasts and connect with key bloggers covering sports and entertainment events.

INTERNATIONAL 

  • ESPN International spans over 200 countries and territories on all seven continents and includes television, wireless, interactive, print, radio, broadband, event management and consumer products.  TV networks reach over 200 million subscribers in 16 languages and now number 46 with the 2009 launch of ESPN in the UK just six weeks after securing the highly prized rights to Premier League soccer.  ESPN America is the new name for NASN (North American Sports Network), ESPN’s first branded live television channel in North Europe.  In addition to marquee U.S. (NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, IRL, all four of golf’s and tennis’ Grand Slam events) and major international (UEFA Champions league and other top soccer, cricket and more) sports, there are 13 local versions of SportsCenter in eight languages — Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, Hindi, Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese.  ESPN360.com is in Europe, Mexico, Brazil and Chile.  ESPN’s international mobile Web sites also saw marked growth. Visits to ESPNSoccernet Mobile were up nearly five-fold (up 379 percent) and visits to ESPNCricinfo Mobile increased 113 percent over 2008.  In print, ESPN La Revista covers sports in Mexico and Revista ESPN does so in Brazil.  ESPN International Radio began syndicating content in 2000 and is heard in four countries.

SALES & MARKETING

  • Named #1 in Beta Survey of advertising and media executives for providing creative/innovative multi-platform opportunities; and providing strategies to retain audience during commercial breaks.  Also #1 for plans to increase advertising spending in 2010.
  • According to a poll of 140 advertiser and media agency executives published by the Jack Myers Media Business Report, ESPN led 20 news and sports TV networks in the availability of online, mobile and multi-platform advertiser opportunities
  • Introduced new ‘mini-mercial’ ad unit that utilizes what was previously billboard time more creatively
  • Opened the Disney Media and Advertising Lab in Austin, Texas. 
  • Offered advertisers more customization than ever with the redesign of ESPN.com.
  • Led industry in multiplatform sales – of deals of $2 million+, 75% included at least one medium other than TV.
  • Among awards won by marketing were four Mark Awards, the industry’s top honor – a gold for ESPN Radio and silvers for MNF: Is It Monday Yet?, CollegeGameDay.com, and ESPN.com’s Mayne Street.
  • ESPN’s sales internationally grew as compared to 2008. Additionally, the international sales team secured a significant cross-platform deal with Toshiba, which was executed across ESPN’s U.S. properties.
  • ESPN Audio continues to be the #1 sports audio brand in the world, generating millions of listening hours and  driving increased advertiser interest.

OWNED EVENTS

  • The X Games and Winter X Games again set viewership records:  Winter X Games 13 was ESPN’s highest-rated and most-viewed with viewership up nine percent from 2008.  Young male and people demos were up double digits. X Games 15 was also the most-watched, up 11 percent.  The first Winter X Games outside the U.S. was announced for March 2010 in France.
  • The ESPYS most poignant highlight was the Arthur Ashe Courage Award – for contributions transcending sports — awarded to Nelson Mandela, with a special taped message from President Barack Obama followed by a presentation by Serena and Venus Williams to his daughter Zindzi Mandela and grandson Zondwa Mandela.  President Mandela, who at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa delighted black and white sports fans across the country by wearing a Springbok rugby shirt and cap.  This iconic gesture helped to unite a previously divided nation through a shared passion for sport, and further cemented the transition from apartheid to democracy.  
  • BASS set an attendance record for the Bassmaster Classic – 130,000 attended in Louisiana.  The ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series magazine, an annual when it debuted last year, met with strong sponsor interest and published two issues.  Overall outdoors (Bassmaster.com and ESPNoutdoors.com) internet page views were up 27 percent.

TEAM ESPN

  • In 2009, ESPN employees responded enthusiastically to the Team ESPN 30K Challenge, exceeding the goal of 30,000 hours of volunteerism in celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary.  Most notable among Team ESPN’s charitable works, The V Foundation for Cancer Research – which was founded by ESPN and through which 100% of donations go directly to research – received millions of dollars as the beneficiary of a variety of ESPN initiatives, including the ESPY Golf Classic, the ESPN Radio V Foundation Auction and the third annual Jimmy V Week across all platforms in December.

 

2009 in Review

 Jan.         5       ESPN.com debuts a redesigned home page with a cleaner design, a richer video experience, and enhanced Scoreboards, personalization and advertising.

            22-25    Winter X Games 13 is ESPN’s highest-rated and most-viewed ever (9% higher than last year’s record), and included the highest-rated single telecast (1.3).   

            26         ESPN360.com launches in Chile.

            27         ESPN and the Mid-American Conference (MAC) reach an eight-year deal for football and basketball rights across multiple platforms in the U.S. and abroad.

            28         ESPN wins 11 Gold Medals among 48 honors and for the second consecutive year is named TV Programmer of the Year at the New York Festivals Awards.

Feb.         1       ESPN America is the new name for NASN (North American Sports Network), ESPN’s first branded live television channel in North Europe.

5               ESPN and the NHRA finalize a five-year multimedia extension through 2016.

            25         ESPN is rated number one by cable operators in perceived value for the ninth year in a row in Beta Research Corp.’s survey.  ESPN2 ranked second for the fourth straight year.

March 5-15        Championship Week on ESPN is the most-watched ever (households up 27%) with ESPN2 up 12% and ESPN.com page views up 18%.

            30         ESPN and ESPN2 each close their most-watched first quarter.  The combined 24-hour audience for ESPN’s four measured domestic networks is also a record.

April         6       ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center debuts as the new home of the weekday 1 a.m. ET (10 p.m. PT) SportsCenter.

            13         ESPNChicago.com launches, followed by Boston and Dallas in September, with New York and Los Angeles to come in 2010.  (L.A. later moved up to Dec. 21.)

            25-26    The ESPN/ESPN2 NFL Draft telecast is seen by a record 36.7 million people while online NFL traffic was up, including a 145% rise to ESPN’s mobile web site.

            26         ESPN Deportes completes its first year of Nielsen measurement averaging a 0.5 Hispanic rating and 20,000 Hispanic homes, the highest-rated and most-watched Spanish-language U.S. sports cable network and the second most-viewed among all Spanish-language cable networks.

            27         ESPN, Inc. wins five Sports Emmy Awards.

May      18         ESPNEWS is added to ESPN Mobile TV with originally produced, constantly updated 30-minute blocks of programming from 3 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday -Friday and 3 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

            19         Two announcements greatly expand ESPNU distribution – joining DIRECTV’s CHOICE package July 1, and Comcast’s Digital Classic service by fall. 

            19         Two major announcements for ESPN360.com – joining Comcast.net and  expanded rights to Wimbledon, nearly doubling hours of live coverage.  Also, coverage on ESPN.com, ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN Mobile TV will grow.

            26         The NBA Conference Final Game 4 (L.A. Lakers at Denver Nuggets) is cable’s most-watched basketball game, averaging 9,883,000 viewers (P2+), based on a 6.9 rating.  (Record is soon broken by Cleveland-Orlando on TNT.)

June        2       ESPN Mobile launches ESPN ScoreCenter, free on the Apple App Store to deliver real-time scores and game summaries from 500 leagues in nine sports to users in 21 countries in six languages.  In September, an ESPN Radio app debuted and both were listed among “Top 25 Apps for 2009.”

            4-14      The NBA Finals on ABC are the most-watched show on television each night of the series (Los Angeles defeated Orlando, 4-1).  

            12         ESPN will televise the Rose Bowl, starting in January 2011.

            22         ESPN International acquires rights to Premier League soccer in the U.K. through 2013 (nearly 100 matches).  On July 7, “ESPN” is announced to debut in the UK on August 3 to televise the matches, plus a wide range of international and U.S. sports.

July      13         Short-form ESPN content is now available via a dedicated channel on YouTube, part of a deal Disney Media Networks announced in March for ad-supported channels on YouTube. The ESPN Video Player is integrated into ESPN’s channel and anchors a wide variety of exciting sports content and highlights.

            14-15    The ESPY Golf Classic and the ESPN Radio V Foundation Auction raise nearly $2 million for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

            16         ESPN International acquires the rights to 30 live Clydesdale Bank Premier games for three years in the UK and Ireland starting in August.

            21         ESPN Regional Television announces the SEC Network to air college sports in 73 television markets.      

  30 – Aug. 2      X Games 15 is ESPN’s most-watched ever.

Aug.        3       ESPN in the UK launches with a wide variety of top European football, rugby and basketball plus U.S. professional and collegiate sports.

 31-Sept. 14      ESPN’s first US Open – completing a “Grand Slam” – includes ESPN2’s two most-watched tennis telecasts.  Also, a men’s semifinal and the Women’s Final are postponed a day by rain and air on ESPN2.

               7       Upon ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, it reaches the goal of the Team ESPN 30K Challenge – 30,000 hours of community service by ESPN employees since May.

            12         ESPN’s most-watched college football game – USC at Ohio State – averages 7,243,000 homes and the 7.3 rating is ESPN’s best for CFB in 15 years.

            12         ESPN’s first live 3D production, USC at Ohio State football, is shown in theatres in Hartford, Conn.; Hurst, Texas; and Columbus, Ohio; as well as The Galen Center at USC and the ESPN Zones in Anaheim and Los Angeles.

            14         The opening MNF doubleheader draws cable’s two biggest audiences for 2009, until surpassed by later games, including cable’s biggest audience ever – 15.1M homes for Green Bay at Minnesota Oct. 5 with Brett Favre facing the Packers. 

            27         ESPN & ESPN2 post their most-watched month ever in September, leading to the most-watched third quarter for ESPN and the four measured domestic nets.

            27         ESPN360.com, ESPN.com and ESPNRadio.com audio all enjoyed their best month ever in September.  Compared to Sept. 2008, ESPN360 saw 250% growth in viewing hours, ESPN.com minutes online were up 54% and hours of audio heard on ESPNRadio were up 61%.

Oct.      9          ESPN The Magazine’s first annual “Body Issue” celebrates athletes of diverse shapes, sizes, genders and races within ESPN’s boundaries of taste, and frontiers of creativity.  It is the best newsstand seller in two years

            16         The ESPN Innovation Lab opens at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort, providing a real-world testing ground to develop ground-breaking on-air enhancements.

            20         Monday Night Football, celebrating its 40th year, becomes the first sports franchise recognized by the Broadcast & Cable Hall of Fame.

            27         Bill Simmons of ESPN.com and ESPN Books release The Book of Basketball:  The NBA According to the Sports Guy, which debuts at no. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Nov.      10         Inaugural issue of Revista ESPN debuts in Brazil, a Portuguese-language version of ESPN The Magazine focusing on locally relevant sports.

            12         ESPN International acquires TV and radio rights in Argentina for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games and the London 2012 Olympic Games, plus pay television rights in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay and satellite-only television rights in Venezuela.

Dec.     2-8        ESPN’s third annual Jimmy V Week shone a week-long spotlight on making a difference against cancer, raising millions of dollars.

               5       The college football season ends as the most-watched for ESPN2 and ESPN’s College GameDay pregame show.

               9       ESPN International acquires live, exclusive FA Cup rights in UK for next four seasons and rights for the Premier League in Ireland for next three years.

            12         ESPN sets back-to-back ratings records — the Heisman Trophy Presentation (highest rated in 16 years on ESPN) and the “30 for 30” documentary The U that followed (highest rated documentary).

            27         The Nielsen year concludes with ESPN and ESPN2 setting new marks for average total-day audience for the year.  Fourth quarter was ESPN’s most-watched quarter ever.  The year’s combined audience for ESPN networks (with ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes) is also a record.

            28         The Independence Bowl (Georgia vs. Texas A&M) is ESPN2’s highest-rated and most-watched bowl.

            28         Monday Night Football concludes its highest-rated season since moving to ESPN in 2006, averaging a 10.4, up 17% over 2008, winning the night six times.

           -30-

 Media Contact: ESPN Communications at (860) 766-2000