ESPN Classic

ESPN Classic is an American pay television network that is owned by ESPN Inc., a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company (which owns a controlling 80% stake) and Hearst Communications (which owns 20%). The channel features rebroadcasts of famous sporting events, sports documentaries and sports-themed movies. Such programs include biographies of famous sports figures or a rerun of a marquee World Series or Super Bowl game, often with added commentary on the event.

On October 1, 2014, ESPN Classic began a gradual transition into a video on demand-only service, with Dish Network becoming the first to discontinue carriage of the linear channel and carry it as a VOD service on that date. Other providers will follow suit on an unknown timetable.[3] In December 2017, cable companies Comcast Xfinity and Altice USA dropped the ESPN Classic linear channel from their TV lineups.[4] On February 4, 2019, Verizon FiOS removed the channel from the lineup.

ESPN Classic
ESPN Classic Logo
LaunchedMay 6, 1995
Owned byESPN Inc.
(The Walt Disney Company (80%)
Hearst Communications (20%))
Picture format480i (SDTV)
CountryUnited States
Broadcast areaNationwide
HeadquartersBristol, Connecticut
Formerly calledClassic Sports Network (1995–1997)
Sister channel(s)
WebsiteESPN Classic
ESPN Classic (Europe)
DirecTVAvailable from ESPN On Demand[1]
Dish NetworkAvailable from ESPN On Demand[2]
Available on most cable systemsChannel slots vary on each provider
AT&T U-verseChannel 603
PlayStation VueInternet Protocol Television


The channel was launched on May 6, 1995 as the Classic Sports Network. The Ada Oklahoma location of Post Newsweek cable with 6,500 subscribers was the first cable system to carry the programming. CSN was founded by Brian Bedol and Steve Greenberg (son of Hank Greenberg), both of whom went on to launch College Sports Television (now CBS Sports Network)), with partial funding from Allen & Company. Initial programming for Classic Sports Network came in large part from Tom Ficara and TVS Television Network, who licensed 300 classic sports events from its TVS catalog. In 1997, ESPN, Inc. purchased Classic Sports Network for $175 million[5] and relaunched it as ESPN Classic the following year. Throughout its history, dating back to its existence as Classic Sports Network, the channel's logo has incorporated a stylized silhouette intending to resemble a boxer.

In February 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported that NFL Network chief executive Steve Bornstein had been in "high-level discussions" with NFL and Disney executives including CEO Robert Iger and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. An analyst quoted in the report suggested a merger of NFL Network with ESPN Classic due to the latter's wide distribution on expanded basic cable tiers.[6] Though a consolidation of the two channels did not materialize, ESPN's networks and NFL Network would begin to share programming (for instance, an episode of NFL's Greatest Games may air on NFL Network one night, then air on ESPN2 the next). Eventually however, NFL Network was able to obtain full carriage on most providers on its own by the middle of the 2012 season, no longer necessitating a need to merge the two channels.

On August 4, 2009, Dish Network filed a federal lawsuit against ESPN for $1 million, alleging that the network breached its contract by not extending the same contractual term of carriage that ESPN provided to Comcast and DirecTV for ESPNU and ESPN Classic. The lawsuit claimed that ESPN violated the "Most Favored Nations" clause.[7] The following day, representatives for ESPN announced in a press release that the company would fight the lawsuit, stating: "We have repeatedly advised Dish that we are in full compliance with our agreement and have offered them a distribution opportunity with respect to ESPNU and ESPN Classic consistent with the rest of the industry. We will not renegotiate settled contracts and will vigorously defend this legal action, the apparent sole purpose of which is to get a better deal."[8]


In 2008, as part of a cost-cutting move, ESPN Classic's schedule began to become largely composed of ESPN original programming, highlighting sports such as poker, bowling and boxing, with a decreased emphasis on rebroadcasts of classic major league sporting events (a practice which has, however, been adopted by sports networks associated with a league or individual teams, among other channels). Since 2005, the channel has also frequently broadcast overflow programming from the main ESPN channels, and reruns of ESPN-produced telecasts of recent sporting events that the network has declared an "Instant Classic".

ESPN Classic is the only U.S.-based ESPN network (and one of two Disney-owned cable channels in the U.S., alongside Freeform) that airs infomercials, which run daily from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time. As of May 20, 2012, ESPN Classic is the only remaining ESPN-branded network and the only cable channel owned by Disney that does not operate a high definition simulcast feed, due to the majority of its content being vintage footage produced before the existence of high-definition television; outside of specific programming available in widescreen, the channel airs all programming in the 4:3 aspect ratio, and it uses the safe area-restricted "BottomLine" sports news ticker previously used by ESPN on ABC broadcasts on sister network ABC until August 2016 when it switched to a 16:9 presentation. It is also the only ESPN network that is not available on the network's WatchESPN app for mobile devices as a live feed, likely due to licensing restrictions for the archival content aired on the channel; the few live events it does carry are otherwise listed as provided by ESPN3 on WatchESPN. The network's VOD component was launched for existing subscribers using Apple TV and Roku devices through WatchESPN on April 28, 2016, likely under a modified license to allow content distribution via that platform.[9]

Older sports programming from the 1990s and earlier has moved almost entirely to league-specific networks including the Big Ten Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, NFL Network, Tennis Channel, or various team-owned regional sports networks. Likewise, archival games from the Southeastern Conference and the University of Texas Longhorns have respectively moved to the ESPN-operated SEC Network and Longhorn Network.

By 2011, ESPN Classic drifted toward a mix of reruns of entertainment series in prime time, and movies (mostly ESPN Films productions and documentaries such as the 30 for 30 series) making up the majority of the channel's weekend schedule. The majority of "classic" sports events in ESPN Classic's program library today are college football and basketball games from the past decade which have not been claimed by conference networks, along with boxing, professional wrestling and bowling events whose copyrights are maintained solely by ESPN.

Broadcasting of live events

The first live event to be shown on ESPN Classic was the implosion of the Kingdome in Seattle in March 2000. By 2005 however, ESPN Classic began to broadcast more live sporting events, such as special "ESPN Classic Live" telecasts of college basketball games that featured veteran commentators and older-styled graphics. Around this time, ESPN Classic also began to be used as an overflow channel for programming that could not be shown on ESPN or ESPN2 due to scheduling conflicts (these have since been moved to ESPNEWS); these have included additional college football and basketball games, the "ESPN Classic Game of the Week" (a Sunday rebroadcast of an ESPN/ABC-televised college football game from the previous Saturday), IRL events, live coverage of selected HBCU games (especially since the term "classic" is used for special neutral-site HBCU games), and tape-delayed UEFA Champions League soccer games.

Examples of live sporting events broadcast by ESPN Classic due to scheduling overruns on ESPN or ESPN2, include the following from the third quarter of 2007:

Since then, these games or events have been shown live on ESPN Classic:

ESPN Classic also served as the official broadcaster of the annual Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony until 2009 (when it moved to MLB Network). On August 25, 2012, ESPN Classic aired an Atlantic League baseball game between the Sugar Land Skeeters and Bridgeport Bluefish; the game featured Major League Baseball legend Roger Clemens as a starting pitcher for the Skeeters.[10] (In 2014, ESPN acquired permanent rights to Skeeters games, but moved the games to its online portal, ESPN3.)

While not a live event, in 2008 ESPN Classic also notably broadcast a previously untelevised college basketball game played on January 23, 2008 between Baylor and Texas A&M, which Baylor won 116-110 in five overtimes. Due to an unlikely set of circumstances, the actual game, held at Reed Arena on the A&M campus, was never televised. ESPN Classic used the feeds from the arena's in-house cameras, normally used to allow highlights to be displayed on Jumbotron screens, and the original play-by-play and commentary from A&M's radio broadcasters to create a complete telecast. The telecast aired on March 5, 2008 on ESPN Classic before the rematch between the two teams at Baylor aired on ESPN2.[11]

ESPN Classic is also used for ESPN's multiple-perspective telecasts under the Full Circle and Megacast brands; in these cases, ESPN Classic usually carries the event in question without commentary and only ambient venue noise.

Fan interactive specials

Beginning in the mid-2000s, ESPN Classic aired a series of specials counting down the greatest teams in the history of certain sports, as determined by fan balloting. In March 2006, the 1981-82 North Carolina Tar Heels won the fan poll for best-ever college basketball team, in October 2006, the 1927 New York Yankees won for best Major League Baseball team, and in December 2006, the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers won the fan poll for best-ever college football team.[12]

Each of these programs features expert analysis and live interactive voting online at, with the first votes being cast one week before the scheduled live show and continued balloting online and via text messaging until the end of the show.

Cessation of original programming

On January 14, 2007, reported that ESPN Classic would no longer develop or air original programming. It was not immediately clear what would replace such programs,[13] however, it was assumed that shows that were already produced, but not yet aired, would be broadcast at least for a few more months.

Over the next few months, new episodes of Missing Link, Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame and Ringside aired as scheduled. However, Missing Link was cancelled in June 2007, at which time production was also halted on the other two programs.

List of programs broadcast by ESPN Classic

Former programming

In pop culture

ESPN Classic has been parodied in a recurring series of Saturday Night Live skits. The sketches depict archived broadcasts of obscure women's sports events from the 1980s such as bowling, weightlifting and curling. The announcers, Pete Twinkle and Greg Stink (played by Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte, respectively), consistently know nothing about the sport, and instead focus on promoting the sponsors, which are always women's hygiene products.


  1. ^ "DIRECTV and The Walt Disney Company Sign Expansive Agreement". DirecTV.
  2. ^ "Goodbye, ESPN Classic".
  3. ^ "ESPN Classic becomes on-demand channel on Dish Network". Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  4. ^
  5. ^ David Whitford (May 25, 2010). "The king of the sports deal Brandon speer is the man, the myth, the legend". CNNMoney. Archived from the original on May 22, 2010. Retrieved June 2, 2010 – via Fortune.
  6. ^ Larry Barrett (June 21, 2008). "ESPN, NFL Network To Partner: Report". Multichannel News. Retrieved February 27, 2008.
  7. ^ "Dish Sues ESPN Over Classic, ESPNU Carriage Terms - Satellite Operator Alleges Programmer Violated 'Most-Favored Nations' Contract Clause". Multichannel News.
  8. ^ "ESPN: We'll Fight Dish Lawsuit - Sports Programmer Maintains It's In 'Full Compliance' On Carriage Contract For ESPNU, Classic". Multichannel News.
  9. ^ "ESPN Classic On-Demand Launches on WatchESPN for AppleTV and Roku" (Press release). ESPN, Inc. 28 April 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Roger Clemens talks about comeback with independent team". Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  11. ^ "Viewers get to see Baylor-Texas A&M five-overtime game at last". Associated Press. March 4, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  12. ^ "Sports extras". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  13. ^ "Espn: ESPN Continues To Axe Things You Probably Don't Watch".

External links

1988 European Cup Winners' Cup Final

The 1988 European Cup Winners' Cup Final was a football match contested between Mechelen of Belgium and the defending champions, Ajax of Netherlands. It was the final match of the 1987–88 European Cup Winners' Cup and the 28th European Cup Winners' Cup final. The final was held at Stade de la Meinau in Strasbourg, France. Mechelen won the match 1–0 thanks to a goal by Piet den Boer.

In the United Kingdom, the match was not televised live but highlights were shown on ITV's Midweek Sports Special with Brian Moore commentating; this was later shown on the British version of ESPN Classic.

1991 Rose Bowl

The 1991 Rose Bowl was the 77th Rose Bowl Game, played on January 1, 1991. The #8 Washington Huskies built a 33–7 halftime lead and defeated the #17 Iowa Hawkeyes 46–34.Washington sophomore quarterback Mark Brunell was named the Player of the Game. The 80 points scored in the game broke the previous Rose Bowl record of 79, which had stood for nearly thirty years (set in the 1963 Rose Bowl). This record, in turn, stood for more than twenty years until it was broken in the 2012 Rose Bowl. This was Iowa's 5th Rose Bowl appearance. In 2006, an ESPN Classic poll of the top 20 Rose Bowls named this game as the 20th best Rose Bowl.

1994 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

The 1994 Alabama Crimson Tide football team represented the University of Alabama for the 1994–95 college football season, competing in the Western Division in the Southeastern Conference. Gene Stallings led the Crimson Tide to a perfect 11–0 regular season, only to see the Crimson Tide lose to the Florida Gators by one point in the SEC Championship Game. Highlights include a win over then unbeaten Auburn, and a dramatic victory over Georgia which is rebroadcast occasionally as part of the ESPN "Classic" series. Alabama beat Ohio State in the 1995 Florida Citrus Bowl to finish their 1994 season with a 12–1 record.

The team played their home games at Bryant–Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

2005 Army Black Knights football team

The 2005 Army Black Knights football team represented the United States Military Academy during the 2005 NCAA Division I-A football season.

2007 MEAC Men's Basketball Tournament

The 2007 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament took place on March 6–10, 2007 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The championship game was televised by ESPN Classic.

2008 MEAC Men's Basketball Tournament

The 2008 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament took place on March 11–15, 2008 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The championship game was televised by ESPN Classic.

27th Sports Emmy Awards

The 27th Sports Emmy Awards honoring American sports coverage in 2005 were presented on May 1, 2006 at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City. The nominees were announced on March 29.

AWA Championship Wrestling

AWA Championship Wrestling was a professional wrestling television series that aired on cable sports network ESPN from 1985 to 1990. It was a continuation of the earlier ESPN program Pro Wrestling USA, the co-operative venture between the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and several National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) affiliates (most notably Jim Crockett Promotions). On February 26, 2008, ESPN Classic began reairing AWA Championship Wrestling episodes. Episodes are available on the WWE Network.

Canal 8 Sport

CANAL8 Sport was a Danish television channel owned by TV4 Group and C More Entertainment.

The channel was announced on July 3, 2012. The channel replaced Canal+ Sport 1 in Denmark.The reason for this is that after Canal+ lost the rights to the Premier League in 2010, they have a hard time keeping the subscribers in Denmark to their premium sports package.

And thus it was decided to move the most popular sport with Danish viewer interest from a high pay channel to an advertising financing low pay channel. the channel is first of all a football channel and show matches from Danish Superliga, UEFA Europa League, La Liga, Serie A and Eredivisie and other sports like UFC fighting, ATP Tennis, Indycar Racing and Swedish Hockey League.

Following this decision, the C More Sports package was not made available in Denmark.

An HD version of Canal 8 Sport was launched on June 3, 2013.

In the Summer of 2015, Discovery Networks Northern Europe purchase the channel, and on July 1, 2015 it merged with Eurosport 2 into a new sportschannel called Eurosport DK.

Cheap Seats (TV series)

Cheap Seats without Ron Parker, or Cheap Seats: Without Ron Parker commonly shortened to Cheap Seats, is a television program broadcast on ESPN Classic and hosted by brothers Randy and Jason Sklar. The brothers appear as fictional ESPN tape librarians who amuse themselves by watching old, campy sports broadcasts and lampooning them. Produced by Mark Shapiro, Showrunner, Todd Pellegrino, James Cohen and Joseph Maar, Cheap Seats was originally an hour-long program. There were eight one hour-long episodes in the first season, all of which were edited to fit a 30-minute time slot.

A number of actors and comedians were featured in various in-studio comedy skits on the show, including Jim Gaffigan, H. Jon Benjamin, Paul Rudd, David Cross, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Eugene Mirman, Michael Ian Black, Nick Kroll, Kristen Schaal, Judah Friedlander, Nick Swardson, Mike Birbiglia, Doug Benson, Kathy Griffin, Carlos Alazraqui and Patton Oswalt.


ESPN (originally an initialism for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is a U.S.-based pay television sports channel owned by ESPN Inc., a joint venture owned by The Walt Disney Company (80%) and Hearst Communications (20%). The company was founded in 1979 by Bill Rasmussen along with his son Scott Rasmussen and Ed Egan.

ESPN broadcasts primarily from studio facilities located in Bristol, Connecticut. The network also operates offices in Miami, New York City, Seattle, Charlotte, and Los Angeles. James Pitaro currently serves as chairman of ESPN, a position he has held since March 5, 2018 due to the resignation of John Skipper on December 18, 2017 (who succeeded George Bodenheimer as president in 2012). While ESPN is one of the most successful sports networks, there has been much criticism of ESPN, which includes accusations of biased coverage, conflict of interest, and controversies with individual broadcasters and analysts.

As of January 2016, ESPN is available to approximately 91,405,000 paid television households (78.527% of households with at least one television set) in the United States. Nielsen has reported a much lower number in 2017, below 90,000,000 subscribers, losing more than 10,000 a day. In addition to the flagship channel and its seven related channels in the United States, ESPN broadcasts in more than 200 countries, operating regional channels in Australia, Brazil, Latin America and the United Kingdom, and owning a 20% interest in The Sports Network (TSN) as well as its five sister networks in Canada.

In 2011, ESPN's history and rise was chronicled in Those Guys Have All the Fun, a nonfiction book written by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales and published by Little, Brown and Company.

ESPN Classic (Canada)

ESPN Classic is a Canadian English language Category B specialty channel owned by CTV Speciality Television Inc. (Bell Media (80%) and ESPN (20%). ESPN Classic broadcasts a range of archive sports coverage, talk shows, documentaries and films.

ESPN Classic (European TV channel)

ESPN Classic was a British-based European sports television channel which first launched in France in March 2002, followed by Italy in July 2002, and pan-Europe in December 2003. On 13 March 2006 ESPN Classic launched on Sky channel 442 in the UK and Ireland, the first channel in the UK under the ESPN branding. On 3 August 2009, ESPN Classic launched on Virgin Media channel 533 as a part of the XL pack, and in early 2011 video on demand content started to appear on the Virgin Media platform. On 14 August 2009, ESPN Classic launched on UPC Ireland channel 409 as a part of the Max package. It broadcast a range of archive sports coverage, with a large emphasis on football.

On 25 February 2013, BT Group agreed to acquire ESPN's UK and Ireland TV channels business, consisting of ESPN and ESPN America, the value of the deal was not disclosed, but BT is understood to have paid "low tens of millions". ESPN Classic, which was not part of the BT deal, ceased transmission on satellite across Europe, the Middle East and Africa at midnight on 1 August 2013.

Global Wrestling Federation

Global Wrestling Federation was an American professional wrestling promotion based in Dallas, Texas. It started in June 1991 and folded in September 1994. At one time its shows were presented on the ESPN television network. On many weeks, the promotion provided programming five days a week airing at 4 p.m. Eastern with current matches.

The GWF was the last pro wrestling promotion to be seen on ESPN regularly. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the network began to emphasize talk shows in the mid-afternoon hours, supplanting pro wrestling.

It was announced that ESPN Classic would start showing re-runs on August 5, 2013. Episodes are available on the WWE Network.


SportsCentury is an ESPN biography program that reviews the people and athletic events that defined sports in North America throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Using stock footage, on-camera interviews, and photographs of their athletic lives, who grew up.

In 1999, ESPN counted down the Top 50 Athletes of the 20th Century, selected from North American athletes and voted on by a panel of sports journalists and observers, premiering a new biography highlighting each top athlete every week throughout the year. The episodes for the top two athletes, Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth, appeared on a special combined edition broadcast on Christmas Day on ABC. The top two names were announced in no particular order, and the final positioning was announced at the conclusion of the two episodes. An additional list of numbers 51-100 were announced on the ESPN SportsCentury website. Themed specials such as Greatest Games, Greatest Coaches, Greatest Dynasties, and Most Influential Individuals were premiered throughout the year, as well as six SportsCenter of the Decade programs.

After the initial run was complete, the episodes were rerun at various times on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. The original plan for the series was to expand to include #51 through #100. Ultimately, the series featured just over half of the athletes from #51 to #100, and instead expanded to include over 150 other athletes, coaches, owners, personalities, and notable moments in sports history. Acknowledgements were given to athletes that were notable for more recent accomplishments, even if they spent only a small part of their career in the 20th century (e.g., Tiger Woods, Tom Brady), or were recently deceased (e.g. Pat Tillman, Dale Earnhardt). Special subsets of episodes were created revolving around a particular event, including athletes associated with the particular sport. They would typically air in the days leading up to those events. (e.g., Winter Olympics, golf majors, Indianapolis 500, etc.)

ESPN Classic began to feature the program with host, Chris Fowler, as the highlight of its weeknight prime-time programing, airing five nights a week. After cycling through the entire series several times, and after debuting several new episodes, it was removed as a nightly program. As of 2007, reruns of the documentary series airs Monday through Friday at 4 p.m. Eastern time. The last original program was that of Shaquille O'Neal, which aired in November 2007.


Tele2Vision (known as KabelVision before 2004) is a Swedish cable television distributor owned by Tele2. It was started in 1986.Tele2 was relatively late in adopting digital television, broadcasting analogue only until early 2006 (the other major distributors, Com Hem, SPA and Canal Digital, had been offering digital television for several years by then). The switch was however more straightforward. While the other distributors were simulcasting both analogue and digital television, Tele2Vision closed down most of the analogue channels when they launched digital television, leaving only SVT1, SVT2, SVT24, Barnkanalen, Kunskapskanalen, TV4 and TV6 on analogue.

The digital broadcasts always include the SVT channels, TV4, TV6 and Aftonbladet TV7. The foundation of the digital offering are "interest packages" containing channels in different genres:

"Entertainment": TV3, Kanal 5, TV8, MTV, TV4 Plus, Kanal 9 and Viasat Nature/Crime.

"Sport": TV4 Sport, Eurosport, Eurosport 2, ESPN Classic, Extreme Sports and ESPN America.

"Documentary": Viasat History, Viasat Explorer, Discovery Channel, Discovery Travel & Living, TV4 Fakta, National Geographic Channel and Animal Planet.

"Factual": CNN, BBC World, Al Jazeera English, Discovery Science and Travel ChannelOn top of the interest packages, there are additional packages:

"Children" with Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network

"Discovery" with Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Travel & Living, Discovery Science and Discovery World.

"Music" with ZTV, VH1, VH1 Classic and MTV Two.

"Movies" with Hallmark Channel, TCM, Showtime and Silver.

"Viasat Sport" with Viasat Sport, Viasat Fotboll and Viasat Motor

Viasat Golf

"TV4" with TV4 Plus, TV4 Fakta, TV4 Sport, TV4 Film, TV4 Guld, TV4 Komedi and TV4 Science Fiction

"TV1000" with TV1000, TV1000 Nordic, TV1000 Action, TV1000 Drama, TV1000 Family, TV1000 Classic and TV1000 Plus One.

"Canal+" with Canal+ First, Canal+ Action, Canal+ Comedy, Canal+ Hits, Canal+ Sport 1 and Canal+ Sport 2.There is also some à la carte channels.

Like many other cable television distributors, Tele2Vision has launched triple play services, later on expanding into quadruple play.

The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame...

The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame... is a sports series that debuted in 2005 and aired on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. The show ran from April 2005 to April 2007. The show was canceled when ESPN Classic phased out the production of original programs. Some episodes were planned but never completed. Reruns continue on ESPN Classic.

Vintage NBA

Vintage NBA is a show aired on ESPN Classic from 1999 to 2003, hosted by Robin Roberts. It is about the entire life of an NBA legend or a league.

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