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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

is a cable broadcaster that specializes in sports events, news and analysis.

ESPN’s is the Walt Disney Co., which bought ESPN’s parent network, ABC, in 1995. Hearst Corp. owns a minority stake in the network.

ESPN proclaims itself as the “worldwide leader in sports,” and it , a , and . It also has about 750 radio affiliates. With a of $8.2 billion and of $50 billion in 2014, it is sports media brand in the United States and may be the nation’s overall.

Some have suggested, however, it could eventually be challenged by a , including CBS and , with its 2011 purchase of NBC Universal and subsequent launch of the NBC Sports Network, though that network has initially . News Corp. has also  competing networks Fox Sports 1 and 2, which are .

ESPN was as a small cable channel characterized by its banter and broadcasts of mostly minor sporting events. During the , it , from traditional media outlets.

ESPN’s website, , is the , behind Yahoo Sports and Fox Sports, and has won . ESPN’s mobile site, , is the United States’ , its largest mobile news site and among the largest overall mobile sites. In 2013, the audience of ESPN’s mobile site surpassed that of its main site.

ESPN has been criticized for its , as well as its role in . It also has drawn fire for , , , and for a by over-covering sports for which it owns broadcasting rights and for playing a major role in college athletic and . Those criticisms in July 2010 with ESPN’s broadcast of NBA star LeBron James’ free-agency decision in a special partly dictated by James’ marketing company. Concerns about conflict of interest sprang up again in 2013, when ESPN pulled out of a documentary with Frontline on the NFL’s response to head injuries .

ESPN , the first sports media outlet to do so. In February 2011, it announced , making it the first news organization to have an institution rather than an individual as its ombudsman. The Poynter Review Project , and ESPN (Robert Lipsyte) the following year.

ESPN launched , a sports and pop-culture site built around longtime columnist Bill Simmons in 2011. Two years later, it and turned his blog, , into a similarly free-standing site . Grantland, FiveThirtyEight, and ESPN Films are run under ESPN’s .

Much of ESPN.com is free, but the site has a premium subscription service called Insider with  as of 2012. The company began charging for access for its magazine’s website and in 2012 had for the magazine and Insider. The site also includes a called ESPN3.

In 2009, ESPN its employees are allowed to post. It in 2011, particularly for breaking news. It has also for violations. ESPN in 2013 to begin showing videos on the service.

ESPN in March 2012, making APIs open to developers to build ESPN-based apps. It in 2014.

ESPN Local is a network of locally focused websites under the ESPN banner. The effort with and has since expanded to include , , and .

The sites grew quickly — the first, ESPN Chicago, within three months — and as a to local media outlets’ sports coverage. However, ESPN to be slowing its local growth into new cities. The sites are by former traditional-media journalists. In 2013, to cover every NFL team; many of those also came from traditional media outlets.

In May 2010, ESPN launched five , and it also has .

In 2013, ESPN , leading to questions about whether its were squeezing its finances.

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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: August 14, 2014.
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