ESPN is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and recorded event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming. Its name derives from Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
Founded by Bill Rasmussen, his son Scott Rasmussen and Aetna insurance agent Ed Eagan, it launched on September 7, 1979, under the direction of Chet Simmons, the network's President and CEO (and later the United States Football League's first commissioner). The Getty Oil Company provided funding to begin the new venture via executive Stuart Evey. John Skipper is ESPN's current president, a position he has held since January 1, 2012.
ESPN's signature telecast, SportsCenter, debuted with the network and aired its 50,000th episode on September 13, 2012. ESPN broadcasts primarily from its studios in Bristol, Connecticut. The network also operates offices in Miami; New York City; Seattle; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Los Angeles. The Los Angeles office, from which the late-night edition of SportsCenter is now broadcast, opened at L.A. Live in early 2009.
While ESPN is one of the most successful sports networks, it has not been free from criticism. This criticism includes accusations of biased coverage, conflict of interest, and controversies with individual broadcasters and analysts. It is now owned by Disney
ESPN launched its 720p high-definition simulcast, originally branded as ESPNHD, on March 20, 2001. All Bristol and L.A. Live studio shows, along with most live events on ESPN, use high definition. ESPN is one of the few networks with an all-digital infrastructure. Footage from non-HD sources is presented in a standard definition, 4:3 format with stylized pillarboxes. Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn began airing in HD on September 27, 2010 with their move to the building housing the ABC News Washington bureau.
ESPN and all of ABC and Disney's cable networks use the 720p HD line standard because ABC executives proposed a progressive scan signal that resolves fluid and high-speed motion in sports better, particularly during slow-motion replays.
In 2011 ESPNHD began to downplay its distinct logo in promotion in preparation for a shift of its standard definition-feed to letterboxed widescreen, which occurred on June 1, 2011.