ESPN2 debuted on October 1, 1993, as a sister station of ESPN. Nicknamed "the deuce," ESPN2 was to be branded as a network for a younger generation of sports fans featuring edgier graphics as well as extreme sports like motocross, snowboarding, and BMX racing. This mandate was phased out by 2001, as the channel increasingly served as a second outlet for ESPN's mainstream sports coverage.
The original ESPN2 graphics featured the letters "ESPN" in several fonts, one of which was its traditional script, with the only consistency being the '2' that looked like spray painted graffiti. On-screen graphics used an odd font with random capital letters, as "tHis iS aN ExAMplE". No announcers wore ties and traditional sports had "deuce names", NASCAR was "Hell on Wheels", the NHL was "Fire on Ice", and so on.
The first program on ESPN2 was SportsNight, a sports news hybrid featuring Keith Olbermann and Suzy Kolber. The debut was noted by Olbermann's statement at the beginning of transmission: "Good evening, and welcome to the end of my career." Several notable ESPN personalities debuted on ESPN2's SportsNight, among them Stuart Scott and Kenny Mayne.
In its early years, ESPN2 was used for some experimental sports broadcasts. On September 18, 1994, ESPN covered the CART Nazareth 200, and ESPN2 featured a live simulcast with an all on-board camera broadcast. ESPN2 featured several half-hour news programs focused on specific sports, such as NFL 2Night (football), NHL 2Night (hockey), and RPM 2Night (auto racing). As early as 1996, ESPN2 debuted a sports news ticker, dubbed the "BottomLine," which was present throughout almost the entire day, rather than just at the top and bottom of the hour as it has been done on ESPN. ESPN2's sports telecasts were also among the first to regularly use a scoring bug.
Not a successEdit
Though the "ESPN2 Attitude" was one of the main inspirations for launching the X Games, this format was, in an overall sense, not successful as no one watched it. The so-called MTV Generation was not interested in sports pandered to them in this way, and traditional sports fans were turned off by the youthful gimmick, and several cable companies still refused to include ESPN2 in their basic lineups. The channel was then reformatted.
ESPN2 since 2001Edit
Beginning in 2001, ESPN2 began to offer much of the same programming as ESPN, often airing spill over programs from "The Mothership." Graphics and announcer dress became nearly the same as ESPN, only using blue where ESPN uses red, plus the addition of the "2" at the end of the logo. The blue color scheme changed to red in 2007.
ESPN2 broadcasts Premier League, La Liga, MLS, and UEFA Champions League.
Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith, a program that featured interviews with popular sports figures, had averaged extremely low ratings, and had also faced several time slot changes, until it was finally canceled in January 2007.
Every Saturday morning on ESPN2 is "Bass Saturday" where Bass Fishing programs are shown.
The "2" does not feature the signature stripe through the font like the other letters in the logo. ESPN's sports ticker, the "BottomLine", continues to run at the bottom of the screen, featured on all ESPN2 programs, whereas ESPN still only features the ticker during its highlights programs and at :18 and :58 on the hour during live game coverage. ESPN2 now appears in 89 million homes in the United States, eleven million fewer than ESPN.
Conversion to ESPN brandingEdit
On February 1, 2007, the sports-media blog Deadspin reported that ESPN2 branding will be soon dropped entirely, in favor of ESPN, for the channel's in-game graphics, similar to the current ESPN branding on ABC sports broadcasts. The ESPN2 brand would be retained only for identification between the two channels, such as in the BottomLine. This change took place in full effect on February 12, 2007, as all on-air graphics (scorebox, transitional, mic flags, etc.) began using the ESPN logo rather than the ESPN2 logo. Another, more subtle change was made to the BottomLine, which is now red like the version of the BottomLine used on the main network; as expected, the ESPN2 logo remained on the BottomLine to further distinguish ESPN and ESPN2.
ESPN2 also simulcasts some ESPNEWS programming, often during local blackouts, and for a while provided a Sunday simulcast of ESPN Deportes' SportsCenter.
ESPN2 also often carries SportsCenter on days where the regular ESPN broadcast is overrun by a longer than expected sporting event.
Sports television in the United States
Specialty networks: Big Ten Network • CSTV • ESPNU • Fox College Sports • Fox Soccer Channel • Fuel TV • GOL TV • Horse Racing TV • MountainWest Sports Network • NBA TV • NFL Network • NHL Network • Setanta Sports • SPEED Channel • The Golf Channel • Outdoor Channel • The Tennis Channel • TVG • Ski Channel (launches 1st qtr 2008)
Regional sports networks: Fox Sports Net • 4SD • Altitude • Buckeye Cable Sports Network • Catch 47 • Columbus Sports Network • Comcast SportsNet • CSS • CL • CST • MASN • MSG • NESN • SportSouth • SNY • STO • Sun Sports • YES • Time Warner Sports 26 • Time Warner Sports Milwaukee • Metro Sports • Fighting Sioux Sports Network
Defunct networks: C-SET • CNNSI • Empire • Football Network • Mizlou • OnTV • SCORE • SportsChannel America • PRISM • SportsChannel Los Angeles • Sports Time • TVS • Victory Sports One • Home Sports Entertainment • Prime Network • PASS Sports • Royals Sports Television Network