Who owns ESPN?- Full History

Who owns ESPN?

Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) is a transnational basic cable sports channel of American origin. Along with sports, ESPN also broadcasts various talk, documentary-styled, and highlight shows. It has always been a part of pop culture. The nonfiction book ‘Those Guys Have All The Fun’ contains the history as well as the rise of ESPN. Let’s see Who owns ESPN?

ESPN is owned by ESPN Inc., a joint venture or a multinational sports media group. The stakeholders are The Walt Disney Company (80%) and Hearst Communications (20%). It has several assets, a sports radio network, and many sports broadcasting operations. Read the article given below to find out more about ESPN Inc. 

ESPN Inc. overview

ESPN Inc. has its headquarters located in Bristol, Connecticut. It was founded by Bill Rasmussen on 7th September 1979. The Chairman of the corporation is James Pitaro. It was founded to air the ice hockey game of New England Whalers as well as sports events in the University of Connecticut. It is the leading sports channel in the United States with almost 100 million viewers per month. They are 24-hour network channels that broadcast live or tape-delay sports-related events along with news and analysis. It grabbed 8th position in 2019 Vault Rankings in the ‘Best Media and Entertainment Companies’ list. 

Its prominent cable channels include ESPN, ESPN Classic, and ESPN2. It also makes original content for its website ESPN.com that is among some of the most preferred sports sites on the internet. 4000 employees work at ESPN (6000 employees worldwide). Walt Disney owns 80% shares of the company through its indirect subsidiary ABC, Inc. Its popular documentary film ’30 for 30’ bagged several awards such as Critics’ Choice Documentary Award, NAACP Image Award, Sports Emmy Award, etc. 


The following is a short description of the companies that are the equity stakeholders of ESPN Inc.-

The Walt Disney CompanyCommonly known as Disney, The Walt Disney Company is a transnational conglomerate involved in the industries of mass media and entertainment. It has its headquarters in Burbank, California. One of its several divisions is ESPN and Sports Content. Disney has the majority ownership (80%) of this corporation. Its annual revenue is around $65.39 billion. 

Hearst Communications, Inc.Often referred to as Hearst, Hearst Communications belongs to the mass media industry. And, it is a business information conglomerate. Its subsidiary is ESPN Inc. with an ownership of 20%. It is headquartered in the Hearst Tower located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Its annual revenue is around $11.4 billion. 

Production facilities

The ESPN Inc. headquarters is considered to be one of the world’s greatest and most refined TV production facilities. It has innovative technological advancements. The ESPN Plaza is home to as many as 19 buildings. The Digital Center-1 was made in 2004 followed by the Digital Center-2 made in 2014. Alone, both of them cover a land area of more than 400,000 square feet. The whole ESPN Plaza spreads on an area of 120 acres with a production space of about 1.3 million square feet. 

ESPN has its Los Angeles Production Center (LAPC) spread across an area of 129,000 square feet. It contains two studios. It went online through L.A. LIVE, an entertainment complex in Downtown Los Angeles in 2009. The facility generates programming for the US networks of ESPN, such as NBA Countdown, SportsNation, SportsCenter, and some ESPN Deportes programs.  

ESPN’s facility at New York‘s South Street Seaport Pier 17, the ESPN Seaport District Studios went online in April 2018. Having a carpet area of 21,000 square feet, it contains a separately constructed studio made for NFL (2020). Two more studios are connected to the control room at different locations. They broadcast several shows like ‘NBA Countdown’, ‘Get Up! First Take’, and other radio, TV podcasts. For accommodating a public audience, the Seaport District Studio has a rooftop platform too. 

In 1999, ESPN opened a facility called the ESPN Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C. It is 38,000 square feet building and contains 3 studios. Mainly, the SEC Network is managed at this facility and some programs produced here are SEC Featured, The Paul Finebaum Show, SEC Now, etc. 

The new Las Vegas studio of ESPN recently debuted on August 24, 2020. It is 6000 square feet big with 3 studies. ESPN’s show ‘Daily Wager’ was moved to this facility on 8th September 2020. Other TV segments produced here are SportsCenter, social and digital platforms. All the studios are connected to the technical operations and control rooms. Other networks such as the Longhorn Network have their home in Austin, Texas. Other advanced facilities have been constructed in Washington D.C. and Orlando. 


It has set its foot in programming through ESPN Films and ESPN Original Entertainment with documentary specials, talk shows like ‘Pardon the Interruption’, and television series. It also had its restaurant chain known as ESPN zone (became difunctional in June 2018). Its cultural influence is always noticeable in events organized by ESPN, such as the Winter X Games, ESPYs awards show, the X Games, etc. The ESPN Events possess and manage 35 events. The highlights are 11 college basketball games and 17 college bowl events.

It even stepped into video gaming and apparel through ESPN NFL video games, ESPN National Hockey League video games, etc., and the SportsCenter Studio Store. There is also an ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex located in Walt Disney World Resort, Bay Lake, Florida. It is built for professional sporting events such as AAU tournaments. 

Main ESPN USA programs

Here is a list of some major programmings by ESPN Inc.-

NFL’s Monday Night FootballIt is a live broadcast television show that focuses on the weekly games of the NFL (National Football League) in the USA. It is one of the highest-rated programs among male viewers. Also, it has been a long-time hit on commercial network television. In 2011, the show extended its contract with ESPN for eight more seasons giving it broadcasting rights until 2021.  

DocumentariesThe documentary film series ‘30 for 30’, which has also won many awards and recognitions is one of the popular programs of ESPN. It highlights significant people belonging to the sports industry as well as famous events. It consists of three volumes, each one comprising 30 episodes. The documentary was named ‘30 for 30’ on account of the 30th anniversary of ESPN in 2009. It contains 30 one-hour shows produced by a team of 30 filmmakers. 

SportsCenterRegarded as ESPN’s flagship program, SportsCenter is a television program featuring various sports and athletes around the globe. It has broadcasted 43 seasons consisting of 60,000 shows till now. It is some of the shows that have been running since ESPN’s launch. The show is also being sponsored by ESPN. It is produced in ESPN’s facilities in Los Angeles, Bristol, Connecticut, and California. 

Overseas network

ESPN has a large number of affiliated businesses and networks. Its business set-ups are radio, consumer products, TV (syndication as well as 29 networks), digital, and event management. SportsCenter is aired in three local languages as well- Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Also, there are 11 locally based versions of the show including major events such as international sports games of cricket, soccer, UEFA Champions League. All the Grand Slam events in tennis, golf along with MLB, IRL, NFL, NASCAR, NBA are included. 

Major production facilities have been located in Mexico City, Bristol, Connecticut, Melbourne, New York, Singapore, Bangalore, Toronto, etc. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does ESPN’s corporate citizenship help people?

Corporate citizenship focuses on using the potential of sports to positively confront the necessities of society. ESPN fulfills the goal through collaborations with various sports communities, investments, volunteerism by employees, marketing plans along making use of media assets. 

They believe that sports play a major role in the upliftment of the human spirit and maximizes human potential. Therefore, this program authorizes better access to sports programs, equipment as well as play areas. It also takes significant steps to conserve the environment for the upcoming generations. They have the ‘V Foundation’ that provides support to cancer-related researches so that a cure can be found. Around $80 million have been raised for the foundation. ESPN has provided aid to more than 1.3 million teenagers and given them access to sports. 

What is the ESPN audio?

The ESPN audio consists of ESPN Radio that is the biggest sports network in radio in the United States. The stations to operate the networks are located in Los Angeles and New York. Annually, the network enables access to 9000 hours of content (both talk and event) with 32 million active users per week. The first podcast of the ESPN Audio was back in 2005. Now, it dominates the sports genre. 


This was all about the owner of ESPN, the ESPN Inc. The corporation has a major influence on the sports culture as well as the worldwide sports fans. With advanced technology, ESPN Inc. has always paved the way for sports to reach each corner of all the seven continents. 

Who owns ESPN?- Full History

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