ESPN Classic features reruns of famous sporting events, sports documentaries, and sports themed movies. Such programs includes biographies of famous sports figures or a rerun of a famous World Series or Super Bowl, often with added commentary on the event.
Launched in 1995 as Classic Sports Network by Brian Bedol and Steve Greenberg, it was purchased and renamed by ESPN (80% owned by Disney, 20% owned by Hearst) in 1997. The current logo incorporates the "boxer" logo that Classic Sports Network used. (Bedol and Greenberg went on to found College Sports Television, now owned by CBS Corporation.)
In a cost-cutting move, the schedule (as of July 31, 2007) is largely composed of ESPN original programming, highlighting sports such as poker, bowling, and bass fishing, with less emphasis on re-airing classic games of major-league sports such as National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and National Collegiate Athletic Association games. (Arena Football was added in March 2007 as part of the new TV contract between the league and ESPN.)
Many of the pro sports games once aired on ESPN Classic are available on NBA TV, NFL Network, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, New England Sports Network, SportsNet New York, YES Network,NHL Network and Versus, among other channels. However, most of the broadcasts on regional sports networks are subject to blackout away from the home team's territory.
In addition, the network presents some original programs (see below).
Despite the old-time feel of the network, ESPN Classic airs the network's standard "Bottom Line" with updates of current sports scores and news.
- American Gladiators (2007-present)
- Arli$$ from HBO, although censored
- 60 Minutes on Classic (2004-present)
- ESPN Classic Remembers (2006-present)
- Instant Classic (TV series)
- NCAA on Campus formerly on Fox Sports Net
- NFL Films
- Reel Classics
- Ringside (2005-present)
- SportsCentury (1999-present)
- Stump the Schwab (2004-present)
- The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame... (2005-present)
- Who's No. 1? (2004-present)
- Fantasy Insider (2007-present)
Broadcasting of live eventsEditimplosion of the Seattle Kingdome in March 2000. More live sporting events have started appearing on the network as of 2005, including early-round grand slam tennis action and college football games due to either ESPN or ESPN2 scheduling conflicts. During ESPN's 25th anniversary, the network debuted ESPN Classic Live, special airings of College Basketball games complete with veteran commentators and old-style graphics. After late 2005 however, all live events on ESPN Classic began using the standard ESPN graphics package, and all graphics began using only the ESPN branding in February 2007.
During September 2007, ESPN Classic aired the inaugural Champ Car World Series race at the Assen race course in the Netherlands live. they also aired live coverage of the inaugural race at the Zolder Circuit in Belgium. They then aired the Surfer's Paradise race live in October.
Also that month, ESPN Classic began broadcasting live Saturday afternoon college football games on a weekly basis. The games are simlucast on broadcast television on stations affiliated with the teams involved with the game. The games are also repeated on Sunday Mornings.
Fan interactive specialsEdit
A recent development of ESPN Classic is a series of specials in which fan balloting determines the greatest teams in the history of particular sports. 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.
Each of these programs features expert analysis and live interactive voting online at ESPN.com. The first votes are cast one week before the scheduled live show, and balloting continues online and via text messaging until the end of the show.
Cessation of original programmingEdit
On January 14, 2007, Deadspin.com reported that ESPN Classic would no longer create or air original programming. It was not immediately clear what would replace that programming, however, it was assumed that such shows 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 did air as scheduled. However, Missing Link was cancelled in June 2007, at which time production was also halted on the other two shows. The long-term future of ESPN Classic appears to be uncertain.
- WNBA basketball, Sacramento Monarchs at Seattle Storm, July 31 (originally on ESPN2, moved due to a game in which Barry Bonds attempted to tie the all-time Major League Baseball home run record and ESPN's airing of an episode of The Bronx is Burning). Also, game 1 of that league's Western Conference final between the Phoenix Mercury and the San Antonio Silver Stars on August 30 was moved here, as ESPN2 aired college football between Tulsa and Louisiana-Monroe. (Also, the WNBA did not want the game to start at the originally-scheduled time of 10 p.m. ET as it was being played in San Antonio, Texas, where the local time was 9 p.m. Had the game started at 10 p.m., it would have aired on ESPN2.)
- IndyCar racing, Firestone Indy 400, August 5 (moved from ESPN2 due to rain delay)
- Two preliminary round games of USA Basketball in the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 22 and 23 and the USA vs. Puerto Rico semifinal on September 1 (ESPN2 had obtained rights, but had other program commitments)
- The third quarter of the WNBA playoff game between the Indiana Fever and Connecticut Sun on August 23, 2007. Again, this was scheduled for ESPN2, but there was a game in the Little League World Series preceding it. After an entire half went untelevised, ESPN Classic decided to pull a rebroadcast of a Major League Soccer game in favor of replacing ESPN2 as Chinese Taipei and Japan continued a game that went very long by Little League standards. Japan would win the game in 10 innings, and ESPN2 picked up the coverage in the fourth quarter. Ironically, the WNBA game would set a record for longest playoff game as the Sun defeated the Fever in triple overtime.
- Two Champ Car World Series races in September and one in October (as mentioned above)
In addition, ESPN Classic covered the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on July 29. Two of Evander Holyfield's pay per view fights, against Lou Savarese and Sultan Ibragimov, were respectively replayed the following week.
- ↑ http://www.champcarworldseries.com/Event/Events.asp?ID=609
- ↑ http://www.latimes.com/sports/custom/extras/la-spw-tvcol8dec08,0,5069626.story?coll=la-sports-extras
- ↑ http://deadspin.com/sports/espn/espn-continues-to-axe-things-you-probably-dont-watch-228617.php
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