|Fate||lost its last major college sports conference in 2015 except for one minor college sports conference (MAAC) and transformed into a sports planning division.|
Ohlmeyer Communications Corporation
ESPN Regional Television
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina, United States|
|Pete Derzis (general manager/senior vice president)|
|Services||Regional Sports Planning (formerly Television syndication)|
|Parent||The Walt Disney Company (80%)
Hearst Corporation (20%)
ESPN Events is an American sporting event planning division that is owned by ESPN Inc. ESPN Inc. is a joint venture between the Disney–ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company (which owns a controlling 80% stake) and the Hearst Corporation (which owns the remaining 20%). ESPN Events 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.
The company was founded as Creative Sports, a sports programming syndicator that merged with Don Ohlmeyer's Ohlmeyer Communications Corporation Sports (OCC Sports) in 1996. After ESPN purchased the merged company, the division was renamed ESPN Regional Television (known on-air as ESPN Plus until 2008).
Most of ESPN's syndicated broadcasts had been presented under the on-air name ESPN Plus. However, the brand has since been phased out from its productions in favor of conference brands, such as SEC TV and the Big 12 Network. The unit produced sporting events for syndication on broadcast stations, regional sports networks; these telecasts were also available on the ESPN GamePlan and ESPN Full Court out-of-market sports packages. ESPN largely exited the syndication business by 2015, moving its conference sports broadcast to dedicated cable networks.
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.
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. On March 12, 1999, ESPN Regional Television was incorporated in New York.
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.
In August 2008, ESPN Regional Television secured a 15-year broadcast rights agreement with the Southeastern Conference, assuming the conference syndication rights from Raycom Sports. ERT syndicated games involving the conference's team under the "SEC Network" brand; through the deal, some SEC games also began airing on ESPNU beginning in 2009, as well as on ESPN and ESPN2 under the "SEC on ESPN" brand.
In 2015, ESPN mostly exited the terrestrial syndication business and integrated its remaining properties into its cable networks and into its online services, WatchESPN and ESPN3. ESPN Events remains active as an event organizer.
ESPN Events produces and syndicates broadcasts from the following conference:
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:
Through ERT's ESPN Events division, the group owns and organizes sporting events for broadcast across the ESPN family of networks.
During opening week of the college football, ESPN Events organizes the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, an annual Historically Black College Football game showcasing a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). ESPN Events also runs two opening weekend games in the Football Bowl Subdivision: the Texas Kickoff played in Houston, Texas at NRG Stadium, and the Orlando Kickoff Played in Orlando, Florida at Camping World Stadium.
ERT acquired its first bowl game in 2001, with its purchase of the Las Vagas 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 qualified to appear in a bowl game, but with no bowl available to take them. By 2013, ERT had founded two new bowl games and purchased four additional games. (By 2015 and 2016, the situation had reversed, as ESPN Events had a glut of bowl games and there were now not enough bowl-eligible teams to fill the slots; instead of dropping bowls, the NCAA has allowed loopholes to ensure all the slots are filled, even by teams with losing records.)
ESPN Events operates the following bowls, which ESPN televises:
During the College Basketball season, ESPN Events organizes:
Most games in these tournaments are televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU; games not on TV are aired on ESPN3
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)
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