Sept. 7, 1979: ESPN Debuts, Becoming One of the Largest Cable Networks in the U.S. - TheStreet

Sept. 7, 1979: ESPN Debuts, Becoming One of the Largest Cable Networks in the U.S.

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ESPN -- known across the globe for its sports entertainment coverage -- is based in Bristol, Conn., with approximately 4,000 employees. ESPN Plaza includes nearly 1.2 million square feet in 18 buildings on 123 acres.

But before all that, ESPN launched on Sept. 7, 1979.

In 1980, Anheuser-Busch invested $1 million in the company and another $5 million in 1981, as ESPN struggled financially in the early years. ABC purchased a controlling stake in the company in 1984 before merging with Capital Cities Communications. The Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion and assumed an 80% stake in ESPN in February 1996.

In the 1990s ESPN founded a radio sports network and added cable networks, including ESPN2, ESPNEWS, and ESPN Classic. ESPN+ launched in April 2018.

S&P Global Market Intelligence says ESPN’s revenue for 2019 totaled $10.2 billion.

The NBA's suspension of its season due to the coronavirus could cost ESPN $600 million in lost ad revenue.

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