ESPN Events is an American sporting event promoter owned by ESPN Inc. It is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and shares its operations with SEC Network and formerly with ESPNU. The corporation organizes sporting events for broadcast across the ESPN family of networks, including, most prominently, a group of college football bowl games and in-season college basketball tournaments.
ESPN Events previously operated primarily as a syndicator of college sports broadcasts; the company was founded as Creative Sports, a sports programming syndicator that merged with Don Ohlmeyer's OCC Sports in 1996. After ESPN purchased the merged company, the division was renamed ESPN Regional Television (ERT), which distributed telecasts for syndication on broadcast stations and regional sports networks; these telecasts were also available on the ESPN GamePlan and ESPN Full Court out-of-market sports packages. Most of ERT's broadcasts were presented under the on-air branding ESPN Plus, but this name was later phased out in favor of dedicated on-air brands for each package, such as SEC Network (not to be confused with the current SEC Network cable channel).
Following its acquisition of the Las Vegas Bowl in 2001, ERT began to double as an organizer of sporting events. The subdivision, which later began to operate under the name ESPN Events, would acquire and establish other bowl games to provide additional post-season opportunities for bowl-eligible teams (and in turn, additional content for ESPN's networks). ESPN Events also organizes several pre-season tournaments in college basketball, as well as the season-opening Camping World Kickoff and Texas Kickoff football games.
ESPN Regional Television began to wind down its syndication operations in the 2010s, as the proliferation of competing outlets (including other sports channels, conference-specific networks such as ESPN's own SEC Network, as well as digital services such as ESPN's own ESPN3 and WatchESPN platforms) took over most of the conference rights and overflow formerly held by the company.
Ohlmeyer Communications Corporation
ESPN Regional Television
|Pete Derzis (general manager/senior vice president)|
|Parent||The Walt Disney Company (80%)|
Hearst Communications (20%)
The company traces its history to Creative Sports, Inc., a North Carolina-based sports syndicator owned and founded by Bray Cary. ESPN Inc. purchased Creative Sports, Inc. and OCC Sports, Inc. in the mid-1990s.
On July 22, 1994, ESPN Regional Television was incorporated in Delaware. ESPN Regional Television was formed in 1996, through ESPN Inc.'s combination of Creative Sports and OCC Sports, under the direction of Chuck Gerber and Loren Matthews. In January 2000, Loren Matthews left ESPN Regional Television for an executive position at sister division ABC Sports. By February 2000, ERT acquired the production rights to the Arena Football League; this included responsibilities for AFL broadcasts on The Nashville Network, which had ESPN retain duties for the events in lieu of its own unit, World Sports Enterprises.
In 2001, ESPN Regional Television moved beyond broadcasting college football bowl games, when it purchased the Las Vegas Bowl from Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. ESPN Regional did so to help partner conferences that had bowl qualified teams but no bowl available. The company bought four more bowls and started two others.
In August 2008, ESPN reached a 15-year, $2.25 billion broadcast rights agreement with the SEC. As part of the deal, ESPN also assumed the syndicated package of games previously held by Raycom Sports; beginning in 2009, ERT syndicated SEC football and basketball under the SEC Network brand.
The original business of ESPN Regional Television began to grow obsolete with the launch of dedicated networks dedicated to specific conferences, including the Big Ten Network, Pac-12 Network, and the ESPN-operated SEC Network, since they largely assumed rights to the game packages that ESPN had previously syndicated. As such, the division pivoted to focusing solely on organizing events, particularly within college football and basketball.
ESPN Plus used to hold the rights to Conference USA football and basketball, Mountain West Conference football and basketball, and Big Ten Conference football and basketball, but has lost them as detailed below:
ERT acquired its first bowl game in 2001, with its purchase of the Las Vegas Bowl from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The company moved into the area as it saw that some of their conference partners had teams that were bowl-eligible, but with no bowl available to take them. By 2013, ERT had founded two new bowl games and purchased four additional games. The games primarily serve as a source of live content for ESPN during the early weeks of bowl season, prior to the larger, traditional games in proximity to New Year's Day (such as the College Football Playoff "New Year's Six", which are also broadcast by ESPN). This strategy has been successful for ESPN, although it has in recent years contributed to an oversaturation of bowl games that have prevented them from all being populated by bowl-eligible teams. ESPN also runs a Division I FCS bowl game, the Celebration Bowl, which is played between the champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) — the two prominent conferences of historically black colleges and universities.
ESPN Events operates the following bowls, which ESPN televises:
ESPN Events is also involved in college basketball, operating early-season events such as the AdvoCare Invitational, the Champions Classic, the Jimmy V Classic, the NIT Season Tip-Off, and the Phil Knight Invitational.
The company's success with college tournament operation and broadcasting led ESPN Regional Television to form a college marketing division, which provides colleges all-in-one services for selling sponsorships, local media rights and other marketing campaigns. The University of South Florida, the University of Kansas and the University of Oregon are some of the clients that the division began representing in 2000.
Raycom Sports (before merger of the Big 8 and SWC)
| Syndication Rights Holder to the Big 12 Conference
(under Big 12 Network branding, 2008-2014)
| Syndication Rights Holder to the Big Ten Conference
Big Ten Network (cable-exclusive)
Raycom Sports (before the merger of the Metro and Great Midwest Conferences)
| Syndication Rights Holder to the Conference USA
American Sports Network
| Syndication Rights Holder to the Southeastern Conference
2009-2014 (under SEC TV branding)
The 2015 Celebration Bowl (officially known as the 2015 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl) was a post-season American college football bowl game played on December 19, 2015 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. The inaugural Celebration Bowl game pitted the North Carolina A&T Aggies, co-champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, against the Alcorn State Braves, champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The event was the finale of the 2015 FCS football season for both conferences as their champions abstain from the NCAA Division I FCS football playoffs.
The game kicked off at 12:00 PM (EST) and was televised live on ABC. The game was also carried nationally on the radio by RedVoice, LLC. ESPN Events was the organizer of the game, while the 100 Black Men of Atlanta managed the game's ancillary events. The United States Air Force Reserve were the title sponsors of the game.
22nd ranked North Carolina A&T won the game, beating Alcorn State by the score of 41–34, claiming the 2015 Black college football national championship before an announced crowd of 35,528.2017 Celebration Bowl
The 2017 Celebration Bowl was a post-season American college football bowl game that was played on December 16, 2017 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. This third Celebration Bowl game matched the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, against the champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the two historically black division I conferences. The event was the finale of the 2017 FCS football season for both conferences as neither had teams earn an at large selections into the NCAA Division I FCS football playoffs and their champions abstain from the tournament.
The game kicked off at 12:00 PM (EST) and was televised live on ABC, as the kickoff game to the 2017 Bowl season. ESPN Events was the organizer of the game, while the 100 Black Men of Atlanta managed the game's ancillary events. The #7th ranked North Carolina A&T Aggies won the game, beating #13th ranked Grambling State Tigers by the score of 21–14, claiming the 2017 Black college football national championship2017 New Mexico Bowl
The 2017 New Mexico Bowl was a postseason college football bowl game played at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 16, 2017. The game was the 12th edition of the New Mexico Bowl and featured the Marshall Thundering Herd of Conference USA and the Colorado State Rams of the Mountain West Conference. Sponsored by clothing company Gildan, the game was officially known as the 2017 Gildan New Mexico Bowl.Armed Forces Bowl
The Armed Forces Bowl, formerly the Fort Worth Bowl from 2003 to 2005, is an annual postseason college football bowl game played in the 45,000-seat Amon G. Carter Stadium on the campus of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. First played in 2003, the game features teams from a variety of collegiate football conferences; in addition, the independent United States Military Academy (Army) is also eligible to participate. Since 2014, the game has been sponsored by Lockheed Martin and officially known as the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Previous sponsors include Bell Helicopter (2006–2013) and PlainsCapital Bank (2003–2004).
The contest is one of 14 bowls produced by ESPN Events (previously ESPN Regional Television) and has been televised annually on ESPN since its inception. Armed Forces Insurance is the official Insurance Partner of the Armed Forces Bowl and has sponsored the Great American Patriot Award, presented at halftime at the bowl, since 2006.Beth Mowins
Elizabeth Mowins (born May 26, 1967) is a play-by-play announcer and sports journalist for ESPN and CBS. She typically calls women's college sports, and became only the second woman to call nationally televised college football games for ESPN in 2005. Mowins was paired with Cat Whitehill on ESPN's tertiary broadcast team for the telecasts of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.Big 12 Network
The Big 12 Network (stylized as the Big XII Network) was a syndicated package featuring live broadcasts of College basketball events from the Big 12 Conference that was broadcast under that branding from 2008 until 2014. It was owned and operated by ESPN Plus, the syndication arm of ESPN, Inc., and was mainly shown in areas in the Big 12’s geographical footprint, along with other areas of the United States. Games were shown locally on broadcast stations, regional sports networks, as well as on ESPN Full Court, and WatchESPN.Boca Raton Bowl
The Boca Raton Bowl is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sanctioned Division I college football bowl game played in Boca Raton, Florida at FAU Stadium, which is located on the campus of Florida Atlantic University. The game was first held in 2014. Since 2017, it has been sponsored by the New York-based beverage company Cheribundi Tart Cherry and officially known as the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl The sporting goods company Marmot was a previous title sponsor in 2015.Camping World Kickoff
The Camping World Kickoff is an annual college football game played on the opening weekend of the college football season in Orlando, Florida at Camping World Stadium. The game, a collaboration between Florida Citrus Sports and ESPN Events, debuted in 2016 with a Labor Day game between Ole Miss and Florida State.
Camping World was announced as the event's title sponsor in May 2016.Celebration Bowl
The Celebration Bowl is a postseason college football bowl game. Sponsored by the Air Force Reserve, it was first played in the 2015 season. The game, organized by ESPN Events, is contested between the champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) — the two prominent conferences of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in NCAA Division I. It serves as the de facto national championship of black college football and is the only active bowl game to feature teams from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Starting with the December 2017 game, it is played at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium; the first two games were played at the Georgia Dome.
The game is a successor to two previous bowl games between the MEAC and SWAC, the Pelican Bowl and Heritage Bowl. The game is organized by ESPN Events, which also runs the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, the annual interconference game between the two conferences, held over Labor Day weekend in Orlando, Florida. Because the Celebration Bowl takes place during the FCS playoff tournament, neither the SWAC nor the MEAC can send their champion to the tournament; as it is, the SWAC's regular season already extended too late into the year for its teams to qualify before the bowl was established. In June 2017, the SWAC announced that it will forgo its football championship game following the 2017 SWAC Football Championship, resulting in the SWAC regular season champion qualifying automatically for the Celebration Bowl. However, in June 2018, the SWAC reversed course, stating that there will be a football championship game, originally to be hosted in Birmingham before scheduling conflicts forced the SWAC to relocate the game to be played at the institution with the highest ranking that qualifies for the SWAC championship game.College Football All-Star Challenge
The College Football All-Star Challenge is a made-for-television competition that is shown on ESPN. The event, produced by Chicago-based Intersport, features senior-class college football players competing in a number of skills contests, including throwing for distance, throwing for accuracy, shuttle runs, and powerlifting.
The Challenge was televised by Fox from its beginning in 1999 until 2005. ESPN began its telecasts in 2006. During the years Fox showed the Challenge, it was held at the same site as that year's Super Bowl. The ESPN events have been televised from the Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami, Florida (coincidentally, the home area of Super Bowl XLI, although at a different location, Dolphin Stadium). In 2009 however, when Super Bowl XLIII was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, the event was televised from Pepin/Rood Stadium at the University of Tampa.ESPN Caribbean
ESPN Caribbean is a regional ESPN service that broadcasts in most Caribbean countries (in English). Operated as part of the ESPN International division, the service is composed of ESPN and ESPN2; both were launched in 2007.FCS Kickoff
The FCS Kickoff is an annual college football game played on the Saturday before the opening weekend of the college football season. The game showcases teams from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision; for its first three editions, it rotated to various campus sites, but the 2017 edition was the first to be played at a neutral site, specifically the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. The game is televised nationally by ESPN.Hawaii Bowl
The Hawaiʻi Bowl (currently known as the SoFi Hawai'i Bowl for sponsorship reasons) is a college football bowl game that has been played annually at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, since 2002. The bowl is one of eleven post-season contests run by ESPN Events.
Typically played on or near Christmas Eve, it features a team from the Mountain West playing an opponent from Conference USA or the Pac-12. Uniquely, the bowl's charter contains a clause dictating that the Mountain West tie-in is automatically awarded to the Hawaiʻi Rainbow Warriors if it is bowl-eligible, and is not selected to participate in a New Year's Six (or previously BCS) bowl game. As such, the team has made the most appearances in the game, with 8. The "guarantee" has been regarded as being for practical reasons, as the team would not be required to perform costly travel to a bowl game in the mainland United States unless it is of high importance. The Mountain West bid was held by the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) until 2012, when Hawai'i moved to the conference and the WAC ceased sponsoring college football.Jimmy Lennon Jr.
Jimmy Lennon Jr. (born August 5, 1958) is an American boxing ring announcer who is employed primarily by Showtime and Fox Sports as ring announcer for their Showtime Championship Boxing and Premier Boxing Champions, also by Bob Arum's Top Rank on ESPN events. Lennon was also employed by Fox Sports when it previously had rights to professional boxing and was the ring announcer for Don King Promotions' fights that aired on various networks (including HBO, although King has largely promoted fights for Showtime since 1991). He is best known for his catchphrase, "It's show time!" but the catchphrase is not spoken during Fox's fight coverage.Jimmy V Classic
The Jimmy V Classic is an annual basketball game organized by ESPN Events to raise money and awareness for cancer research. It is named after Jim Valvano and features clips from his speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards.Las Vegas Bowl
The Las Vegas Bowl is an NCAA-sanctioned Division I FBS post-season college football bowl game. It has been played annually at the 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium in Whitney, Nevada, every December since 1992 (2019 will be its last, as it will move to Las Vegas Stadium the year after). The bowl is owned by ESPN Events.MEAC/SWAC Challenge
The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is an annual historically black college college football game showcasing a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and a team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). The series began in 2005 and initially paired the defending conference champions, although the selection process was broadened to include non-champions as well, in 2007. Through the 2018 season the MEAC leads the series with nine wins to the SWAC's four (along with a "no contest" game in 2016). The Challenge is televised nationally on ESPN and is owned by ESPN Events. It is associated with the Labor Day weekend.Myrtle Beach Bowl
The Myrtle Beach Bowl is a planned NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision college football bowl game to be played in Conway, South Carolina, and owned by ESPN Events. The college leagues that have tie-ins with the bowl are Conference USA, Mid-American Conference and Sun Belt Conference. The affiliation contract with ESPN Events has each conference supplying a team four times in a six-year bowl cycle from 2020 to 2025. Coastal Carolina University will host the game at its Brooks Stadium, which will feature a new capacity of 20,000 seats following an expansion project scheduled to be complete prior to the 2019 season.SEC Network
The SEC Network is an American sports network that is owned by ESPN Inc., a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company (which operates the network, through its 80% controlling ownership interest) and the Hearst Communications (which holds the remaining 20% interest). The channel is dedicated to coverage of collegiate sports sanctioned by the Southeastern Conference (SEC) including live and recorded event telecasts, news, analysis programs, and other content focusing on the conference's member schools. The network is estimated to have 70 million subscribers, more that any other dedicated sports network. The network's coverage serves as the successor to an eponymous syndication package (later renamed SEC TV), which was produced by its syndication arm ESPN Regional Television. SEC Network is operated out of ESPN facilities in Charlotte, North Carolina, shared with ESPN Events and formerly ESPNU. While Charlotte is not an SEC market itself, it is in close proximity to universities that are members of the conference and shares a television market with the northern part of South Carolina, which is part of the South Carolina Gamecocks' television market.
|Lore televised by ESPN|
|Bowls broadcast by ESPN|
|Sports broadcasting rights|