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Clash of the Titans

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The editors at Sports Management Degrees decided to research the topic of:

Clash of the Titans

FS1, with its billions of dollars in funding takes on the 800 pound elephant, ESPN, in the latest cable sports war.

ESPN Key Dates:

1978: Bill Rasmussen forms Entertainment Sports Programming Network, Inc. (ESPN) to broadcast sporting events to cable television operators via satellite.
1979: ESPN begins broadcasting on a limited-time basis.
1980: ESPN begins broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
1984: ABC, Inc. acquires ESPN.
198? ESPN begins broadcasting National Football League games.
1989: ESPN begins broadcasting Major League Baseball games.
1993: ESPN2 begins transmission.
1995: Walt Disney Company acquires Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. and becomes ESPN's parent company.
2003: ESPN HD, a high-definition television sports network, is introduced.

FS1 Key Dates:

1993: At $1.58 billion (for four years) FOX outbids all other networks, wins the TV rights for NFC games. The move helps solidify a new U.S. network, FOX TV.
Aug. 17, 2013: SPEED channel is renamed FS1, which launches at midnight.

ESPN vs. FOX (the ownership battle)

ESPN, Inc. was the brainchild of Bill Rasmussen, an unemployed sports announcer.
FS1 is the brainchild of Rupert Murdoch, multi-billionaire media mogul.
ESPN founder Rasmussen used his credit card to gain access to rent satellite time.
FS1 founder Murdoch already owns satellites.
ESPN began broadcasting in September 1979 with limited airtime during the week and 24-hour coverage on the weekends.
FS1 launched with 24/7 programming already bought and paid for.
ESPN's home office was on a former garbage dump in Bristol, CT. Land was bought for $18,000.
ESPN's early financing came from Getty Oil, which invested $10 million in the company in 1979 for a controlling interest.
FS1's headquarters are in Los Angeles. Funding emanated from Rupert Mudoch's media empire.

The Battle Begins:

Fox takes on ESPN for the first time: It was during the first half of the 1990s that ESPN had its first run in with FOX Sports. In football, baseball, and ice hockey.
In 1998 FOX Sports' regional programming approach was giving ESPN significant competition for advertising dollars.
Fox customized its "FOX Sports News Primetime" broadcasts for each local market. Its regional approach to baseball resulted in larger audiences nationwide than ESPN, even though ESPN reached 12 million more households that Fox/Liberty's 22 networks combined.

Principal Operating Units:

ESPN; ESPN2; ESPN Classic; ESPNews; ESPN HD; ESPN Interactive; ESPN International; ESPN Original Entertainment; ESPN Outdoors; ESPN The Magazine; ESPN Radio;; ESPN ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales.
FOX: FS1. FS2, Scout, Fox Deportes, and Fox Soccer. And Also 18 regional sports networks, including NESN (home of the Boston Red Sox), and Fox West Prime Ticket (home of the L.A. Dodgers, L.A. Angels, and L.A. Clippers). FOX also owns 49 percent of the YES network, which broadcasts N.Y. Yankees baseball and Brooklyn Nets NBA basketball.


ESPN: Sept. 7, 1979
FS1: Aug. 17, 2013

Number of homes:
ESPN: 98.5 million
FS1: 90 million

Cost per household:
ESPN: $5.54
FS1: .23-$1

Topline App:
FS1: FOX SportsGO

Estimated value:
ESPN: $40 billion
FS1: To be determined

Programming wars:

ESPN has: NFL, Major League baseball, college football, NBA games, major tennis tournaments, major golf tournaments, and access to worldwide sports via its ESPN International and ESPN affiliates in countries around the world
FS1 has: UFC, Nascar, NFL, Major League baseball, NBA college basketball, World Cup Soccer, college football and access to worldwide sports via Rupert Murdoch's SKY satellite networks.

In studio live nightly sports wrap-up:

Fox Sports Live
ESPN Sports Center

Meanwhile, on their flanks are other national players:

NBC Sports Net
Launched: July 1995
Number of households: 80 million
Cost per household: .33
Sports offered: NHL hockey, English Premiere League soccer, Formula 1 racing, cycling

CBS Sports Net
Launched: 2002
Number of households: 98 million
Cost per household: .24
Sports offered: golf, tennis, college basketball, college football