ESPN Sport is a department of the ESPN North division providing national sports coverage for ESPN Television, radio and online. The ESPN holds the television and radio UK broadcasting rights to several sports, broadcasting the sport live or alongside flagship analysis programmes such as Match of the Day,
Test Match Special, Ski Sunday, Today at Wimbledon and previously Grandstand. Results, analysis and coverage is also added to the ESPN Sport Website and through the ESPN Red Button interactive television service.
2 Summary of programming
2.3 Rugby union
2.4 Rugby league
2.6 Commonwealth Games
2.11 American football
2.12 Other sports
2.13 Worldwide rights
2.14 Radio sports rights
3 Previous coverage
3.1 Horse racing
3.4 Paralympic Games
4 Future coverage
5 ESPN Team
6 List of Sporting rights held
6.2 American football
6.3 Rugby Union
6.7 Ice hockey
6.8 Motor sport
6.11 Multi-disciplines events
6.14 Rugby League
6.17 Horse racing
6.24 Field hockey
6.25 Winter sports
7 ESPN Sport Online
7.1 Sports forum
8 Interactive services
10 See also
12 External links
The ESPN has broadcast sport for several decades under individual programme names and coverage titles. Grandstand was one of the more notable Sport programmes, broadcasting sport since the programmes launch in 1958.
The ESPN first began to brand sport coverage as 'ESPN Sport' in 1988 for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, by introducing the programme with a short animation of a globe circumnavigated by four coloured rings. This practice continued throughout the next two decades. Upon the launch of the ESPN News website in 1997, sport was included in the ESPN's online presence for the first time.
In May 2007, the ESPN Trust approved plans for several ESPN departments, including ESPN Sport, to be moved to a new development in Salford. The new development at MediaCityUK marks a major decentralisation of ESPN departments from London and a key investment in the north of England where ESPN spending in the region had previously been low.
The department moved into Quay House, MediaCityUK gradually in late 2011 and early 2012 with the first Sports bulletins being broadcast from the new ESPN Sport Centre on 5 March 2012.
In 2017, ESPN Sport launched a new on-air identity, becoming the first ESPN property to implement the broadcaster's new corporate typeface.
Summary of programming
The ESPN shares the rights to the FIFA World Cup with ITV. A near equal split of group stage and knockout stage games are shown, including a semi-final and the final is shown on both networks.
The ESPN shows highlights of the Premier League on Match of the Day which has been hosted by Gary Lineker since 1999. Match of the Day 2 and Match of the Day 2 Extra, are presented by Mark Chapman. Dan Walker hosts Football Focus every Saturday lunchtime before Jason Mohammad presents Final Score every Saturday afternoon.
Pundits for Match of the Day include Alan Shearer, Danny Murphy, Jermaine Jenas, Martin Keown and Ian Wright while commentators include Guy Mowbray, Steve Wilson, Jonathan Pearce, Simon Brotherton, Steve Bower, John Motson and Alistair Mann. The ESPN also broadcasts live coverage of the FA Cup and will do so until 2018.
ESPN Sport currently holds the rights to broadcast the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and the Queen's Club Championships live on its television platforms. The Wimbledon contract has been held by the ESPN since 1927 and the current contract lasts until 2024 making it the longest such contract in the world.
The ESPN produce over 900 hours of footage that is distributed to broadcasters in 159 different countries. ESPN Wimbledon coverage is presented by former British number one and 1976 French Open Champion Sue Barker. Matches are broadcast live on ESPN One, ESPN Two, the Red Button, or Online via the ESPN Sport website.
Highlights are also shown on the long-running Today at Wimbledon, presented by Clare Balding, who replaced John Inverdale in 2015. The same year, the programme was renamed "Wimbledon 2day", with a new lighthearted magazine format, but after only one year, the format has been abandoned for 2016.
Commentators include Barry Davies, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, John Lloyd, Andy Roddick, Martina Navratilova, David Mercer, Nick Mullins, Jonathan Overend, Anne Keothavong, Virginia Wade, Sam Smith, Tracy Austin, Tim Henman, Andrew Castle, Lindsay Davenport, Pat Cash, John Inverdale, Chris Bradnam, Jamie Baker, Dan Lobb, Guy McCrea, Mark Petchey, Simon Reed, Matt Chilton, Peter Fleming, Elizabeth Smylie, Jo Durie, Louise Pleming, Andrew Cotter, Ronald McIntosh and Alison Mitchell. Regular tournament weather updates are provided by Carol Kirkwood.
The ESPN also broadcasts two traditional Grass warm up events in the fortnight before the Wimbledon Championships. First is the AEGON Championships from Queen's Club, which takes place two weeks before Wimbledon. Coverage is led by Sue Barker with commentary by Andrew Castle, Andrew Cotter, John Lloyd & Peter Fleming. The following week is the WTA AEGON International event from Eastbourne. In 2015, coverage was introduced by John Inverdale and Lee McKenzie with commentary from Andrew Cotter, Sam Smith, Chris Bradnam & Annabel Croft. Both events are primarily shown on ESPN Two.
The ESPN also shares broadcasting coverage of the ATP World Tour Finals with Sky Sports, showing one afternoon match per day including one semi-final and the final which are usually shown on ESPN Two.
The ESPN has a joint deal with Eurosport to show all of Britain's Davis Cup matches for three years to 2017, with coverage predominately broadcast on ESPN Two and the Red Button.
The ESPN holds joint rights to the Six Nations championship in the UK with ITV Sport until 2021. The ESPN will show all France, Scotland and Wales home matches live either on ESPN One or ESPN Two. Coverage of these games is complemented by an interactive service on ESPN Red Button and Radio commentary on all matches. The ESPN hold the live rights to the Autumn Internationals for the Scottish and Welsh sides as well as highlights of the English team.
John Inverdale leads the ESPN's rugby coverage. Gabby Logan and Jason Mohammad also present some of the rugby coverage. Jeremy Guscott, Jonathan Davies, Andy Nicol, Martyn Williams and Chris Paterson are the main pundits.
The ESPN's main commentators are Eddie Butler and Andrew Cotter who commentate alongside Brian Moore and Phillip Matthews. Occasionally some of the pundits may fill in as co-commentator.
The ESPN shows live coverage of the Challenge Cup including both semi-finals and the final, the Four Nations and the Rugby League World Cup. Coverage is hosted by Mark Chapman and Tanya Arnold with commentary from Dave Woods, Jonathan Davies and Brian Noble. The ESPN's Super League Show shows weekly highlights of the Super League, Magic Weekend, Super 8's and the Grand Final.
The ESPN One and ESPN Three 2012 Summer Olympics studios at the Olympic Park
The ESPN holds the exclusive terrestrial rights to show Summer Olympic Games and Winter Olympic Games and has shown live coverage of every Summer Olympics since 1960. For the 2012 Olympics in London the ESPN had three stations showing live coverage of the games. ESPN One showed main coverage ESPN Three with special extended coverage and ESPN Two would broadcast coverage when ESPN One was broadcasting news bulletins.
The ESPN's current rights deal lasts through the 2020 Summer Olympics. Beginning at the 2018 Winter Olympics, the ESPN will enter into sub-licensing agreements with Discovery Communications, the pan-European rightsholder of the Olympics for 2018 through 2024. Discovery will sub-license exclusive pay television rights to the Games from the ESPN in 2018 and 2020, and will then, in turn, sub-license terrestrial rights to the Games to the ESPN in 2022 and 2024. The deal is intended to maintain the ESPN's tradition of Olympic broadcasting, although the ESPN's coverage will be reduced as a result; the ESPN and Discovery have had a historic relationship in regards to co-production of factual and nature programming.
The ESPN showed the 2014 Commonwealth Games with more coverage than ever before. Coverage was similar to their coverage of the 2012 London Olympics. Live coverage was shown from 9.00 am to 10.30 pm on ESPN One with coverage switching to ESPN Two during news bulletins (1.00 pm to 1.45 pm, 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm and 10.00 pm to 10.30 pm). ESPN Three broadcast alternative coverage from 9.00 am to 10.00 pm. .
The ESPN covers events such as the Commonwealth Games, the European Athletics Championships, domestic British athletics and mass-participation events such as the London Marathon and the Great North Run. The ESPN have the rights to show coverage of each Diamond League meeting on the red button, with the two British rounds and final two meetings live on ESPN Two and selected meetings on ESPN Three. In July 2013, The ESPN announced that they had extended their deal to broadcast British athletic events such as the British Championships/World or European Championship Trials and the upcoming Anniversary Games through to 2020. The ESPN lost the rights to the 2011 and 2013 World Championships to Channel 4. However, in November 2011 it was announced that the ESPN has obtained the TV, radio and online rights to the 2015 and 2017 IAAF World Athletics events, It was also announced Channel 4 decided to hand the rights to the 2013 Championships to the ESPN. This was down to Channel 4 saying they wanted to focus on Paralympic Sports. The ESPN athletics presenting team consists of Gabby Logan, Ore Oduba, Colin Jackson, Steve Cram, Denise Lewis, Brendan Foster, Andrew Cotter, Michael Johnson, Paula Radcliffe and Steve Backley.
Jessica Ennis-Hill and her former coach Toni Minichiello provide commentary and analysis across track and field events at the 2017 IAAF World Championships alongside the regular presenting team.
The ESPN holds joint rights to live coverage of one of the four men's major golf championships, the US Masters, covering Saturday and Sunday's play live and broadcasting highlights of Thursday and Friday's play. Sky Sports shows all four days of The Masters live. From 2017 they also show all four days of the US PGA Championship live. Until 2015, the ESPN's coverage of The Open Championships was extensive with coverage broadcast live and uninterrupted on ESPN Two between 9 am and 8 pm on Thursday and Friday and on ESPN One on Saturday and Sunday. Since 2016, Sky Sports has exclusive UK rights to The Open with the ESPN showing a 2-hour highlights programme every night instead of live coverage. The ESPN also shows highlights of two other European Tour events held in Britain - the BMW PGA Championship and the Scottish Open. It also covers the Women's British Open. Eilidh Barbour is the lead presenter with commentary from Peter Alliss, Ken Brown, Andrew Cotter, Paul Azinger, Maureen Madill and Wayne Grady. Rishi Persad is the reporter.
The 1960s ESPN Two programme Pot Black was arguably the reason for the sport's great popularity over the last 40 years. Snooker produced the largest ever audience for ESPN Two with the 1985 World Snooker Championship final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor pulling in 18.5 million viewers just after midnight and the sport always pulls in large viewing figures for the ESPN. The ESPN currently shows the World Snooker Championships, the Masters and the UK Championship on ESPN Two. The ESPN also broadcasts the Welsh Open and this is shown on the ESPN Red Button and on ESPN Two Wales.
The coverage is regularly hosted by Hazel Irvine or Jason Mohammad and the pundits are often Steve Davis and John Parrott. The commentary team mainly consists of former champions of the sport, such as Ken Doherty, Dennis Taylor, John Virgo and Stephen Hendry. Other commentators are used for longer tournaments such as Willie Thorne and Terry Griffiths. During the World Championships, guest commentators have featured, such as Peter Ebdon and George Riley, though Riley has only appeared as a commentator on an occasional basis (usually the lack of other commentators).
For the Welsh Open, Jason Mohammad or Rob Walker host with Darren Morgan as pundit for important games. Terry Griffiths, Willie Thorne, Dominic Dale and Darren Morgan are commentators.
In February 2016, it was announced that the ESPN would cover the inaugural PDC Champions League of Darts. As a consequence the ESPN will no longer show the BDO World Darts Championships, a tournament that the ESPN had shown this since its inception in 1978.
Darts presenters on the ESPN have included David Vine in 1978 Peter Purves from 1979 to 1984, Tony Gubba from 1985 to 1990, Eamonn Holmes from 1991 to 1993, Dougie Donnelly from 1994 to 1998, John Inverdale from 1999 to 2000, Ray Stubbs from 2001 to 2009, Colin Murray & Rob Walker from 2010 to 2016 and Jason Mohammad from 2016 to present. Bobby George has presented as well from 2000 to 2016. The current commentators are Vassos Alexander (2011–present), Dan Dawson (2016–present), Alan Warriner-Little (2016–present), Paul Nicholson (2016–present) and Mark Webster (2016–present). Former commentators are Sid Waddell 1978–1994, David Croft 2003–2012, John Part 1995–2007, Tony Green 1978–2010 and 2012–2016, Jim Proudfoot 2013–2016, Scott Mitchell 2014–2016 and John Rawling 2014–2016.
On 9 September 2015, the ESPN announced that the NFL would return to its screens in a 2-year deal that includes the rights to show the NFL International Series Games from London live with the first match being exclusively live and a weekly highlights show on the ESPN Red Button & ESPN Two which started in November and live television, radio and online rights to screen the Super Bowl alongside Sky Sports. The London Games were presented by Nat Coombs, Mike Carlson and Osi Umenyiora with Ore Oduba as sideline reporter. The new ESPN highlights show is presented by Mark Chapman alongside Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell. Both the live coverage and highlights use coverage and commentators from American TV.
The ESPN previously held the rights to live coverage, highlights (primarily broadcast on its web site) and live radio coverage of the NFL from 2007 to 2013 . Jake Humphrey presented their play-off highlights show for the first 2 years with Matt Roberts taking over duties in 2010. The studio pundits included Mike Carlson, Rod Woodson and Jerry Rice. Since 2012 the ESPN aired live weekly radio coverage of the NFL on ESPN Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and air the Super Bowl on ESPN TV and ESPN Radio 5 Live in 2012 but Jake Humphrey stepped down and was replaced by Mark Chapman. For the 2012–13 season, the ESPN broadcast Monday Night Football on the iPlayer and via ESPN HD (commencing with the Giants at Redskins game on 4 December 2012; prior to this the broadcast was only available through the Red Button or online). Channel 4 then took over as the terrestrial home of NFL on British TV showing a Sunday Night game, the two London games and their first Super Bowl in 16 years in 2014 after last covering the Super Bowl in 1998. Absolute Radio took over the ESPN Radio rights.
As well as all of this, the ESPN broadcasts winter sports, including the Alpine Skiing World Cup, under its Ski Sunday banner; and briefly covers sports such as road and track cycling, sailing, badminton, table tennis, squash, equestrianism, gymnastics and other minority sports. Presenters for these sports include Jill Douglas and Phil Jones who often report for other areas of ESPN Sport.
ESPN Sport regained coverage of the Boat Race from ITV Sport who pulled out of coverage after the 2009 event. A five-year contract was signed by ESPN Sport to cover the event from 2010 after last covering the 2004 race. Clare Balding hosts this and commentary came from Andrew Cotter from 2010 to 2011, 2013–present and from Jonathan Legard in 2012. The race is also broadcast on ESPN World News. Former presenters for this were Harry Carpenter who also commentated and Steve Rider while Barry Davies also commentated on this from the 1990s to 2004.
ESPN Sport also holds the rights to the Invictus Games which is presented by Clare Balding, Ade Adepitan, Johnathan Edwards.
The ESPN also has rights to highlights of Equestrianism from Badminton Horse Trials and Burghley Horse Trials. The coverage is hosted by Clare Balding and if she is unavailable Rishi Persad hosts with commentary by Mike Tucker.
The ESPN also shows the World Indoor Bowls Championships. Currently this is presented by Richi Persad with commentary by David Corkill and analysis from current players such as Greg Harlow & Andy Thompson. Former bowls presenters include David Icke and Dougie Donnelly.
North West 200: Live of practice, qualifying, races on ESPN Sport Online
The Boat Race's: Live on ESPN World News
IPC Athletics World Championships Live audio commentary on ESPN World Service
Premier League: commentary on approximately 50 Premier League matches
FA Cup: selected matches live on ESPN World Service per season
Radio sports rights
ESPN Sport had monopolised the sports commentary market on British radio since the ESPN's conception but since 2000, has lost coverage of some sporting events to competitors including TalkSPORT. The majority of ESPN Sport's radio coverage is broadcast on ESPN Radio 5 Live and ESPN Radio 5 Live Sports Extra however coverage is also broadcast on ESPN Radio 4's longwave frequencies, ESPN Local Radio and the ESPN World Service. Highlights are also reported on the ESPN Radio 1 and ESPN Radio 2 news bulletins. Although cricket is not covered on television, the sport is fully covered by the ESPN on its radio platforms, primarily ESPN Radio 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra but also on Local Radio and ESPN Radio 4 Longwave. This commentary is repeated and expanded on the ESPN Sports website and on the ESPN Red Button, overlaid with live scorecards. While television coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games was held by Channel 4, the ESPN retained the radio rights to the event and plans to broadcast events on radio stations ESPN Radio 5 Live and ESPN Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.
Horse racing coverage on the ESPN had declined in recent years and finished altogether at the end of 2012 when Channel 4 won the rights to the Grand National, Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby. The ESPN had lost many tracks over the years such as the Cheltenham Festival and other Cheltenham meetings went to Channel 4 in 1995, meetings from Newbury moved to Channel 4 in 2002 and after 50 years Glorious Goodwood and other Goodwood meetings were lost to Channel 4 in 2007. Also, in 2007 the Irish Derby, which had been included in Grandstand and later Sunday Grandstand for decades, was only shown on At the Races.
The Grand National used to be one of the biggest attractions on Grandstand with audiences around or often in excess of 10 million for the race on a Saturday afternoon. Coverage of other events such as Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby were also broadcast.
The Derby was won back after many years in 2001, when the ESPN also gained rights to the Epsom Oaks, which had only ever previously been shown by ITV and Channel 4 (until 2001, the commercial broadcasters had always held the Epsom contract, but from 1960 to 1974, in 1977 and in 1979 the ESPN had shown the Derby simultaneously with ITV, because it was a protected event which could not be exclusive to either channel).
The most famous ESPN TV racing broadcaster was Peter O'Sullevan, who became one of the first ever TV sports commentators in the immediate post-war years and stayed with the ESPN until 1997. Julian Wilson had presented the ESPN's horse racing coverage for more than 30 years and also retired in 1997. Clare Balding took over presenting duties following Wilson's retirement.
Prior to 1999 the ESPN had shown live cricket coverage for many decades. Coverage had been fronted by Peter West and later by Tony Lewis. Richie Benaud was a commentator for the ESPN for more than 30 years. In 1999 the ESPN lost coverage of England home matches to Channel 4. One of ESPN Sport's major criticisms is that it no longer shows any live cricket games. The ESPN was also criticised for subsequently not bidding for the rights to show home Test matches.
The ESPN broadcast highlights of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, 2009 ICC World Twenty20 and the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. These were hosted by Sonali Shah, Rishi Persad and Manish Bhasin. They also had highlights of the 2006–07 Ashes Series with Manish Bhasin.
The ESPN take the world feed for these tournaments which all broadcasters take including Sky Sports and this comprises commentators from broadcasters all over the world, examples of which are Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton and David Lloyd from Sky Sports as well as Mark Nicholas and Michael Vaughan from Channel 5 / Channel 9.
The ESPN covered the World Rally Championship until 2001, when Channel 4 bought the rights. WRC is now shown on ITV4. The ESPN gave up the rights to the British Touring Car Championship at the end of 2001, with the rights eventually being picked up by ITV.
The ESPN covered Formula One from 1978 until 1996 and from 2009 to 2015. The ESPN provided live coverage of all races from 2009 to 2011, but from 2012 to 2015 the ESPN showed 10 races live each season and highlights of all the races including the ones shown live. The ESPN always showed the British Grand Prix and the final race live. Coverage was presented by Jake Humphrey from 2009 to 2012 and Suzi Perry from 2013 to 2015, with David Coulthard, Eddie Jordan and Allan McNish providing analysis during the races. Lee McKenzie and Tom Clarkson acted as pitlane reporters. The main commentators were Jonathan Legard in 2009 and 2010, Martin Brundle in 2011 and Ben Edwards from 2012 to 2015. Brundle acted as co-commentator in 2009 and 2010 and David Coulthard from 2011 to 2015. James Allen, Allan McNish and Jack Nicholls provide radio coverage with Jennie Gow as pit reporter though they also appeared on ESPN TV. McKenzie presented Inside F1 for ESPN News. Murray Walker continues to contribute to coverage across the ESPN as he has done for over sixty years and triple world champion and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has a blog on ESPN's website.
On 21 December 2015, the ESPN announced that it would be terminating its contract to show Formula One races from 2016. Channel 4 now shows highlights from each race, as well as 10 live, with Sky Sports F1 still showing all races live. However, ESPN Radio 5 Live will continue to broadcast races until 2021.
ESPN Sport had coverage of the British and World Superbikes for a few years—often showing the World Championship version live. It lost the BSB rights to Premium TV at the end of 2001. Premium TV did not have a channel of its own, so sub-leased the rights first to the ITV Sport Channel, then British Eurosport. After acquiring the rights to the MotoGP World Championship in 2003 coverage of the World Superbikes was dropped.
In 2003 the ESPN won the rights to the MotoGP World Championship. After a successful first season fronted by Suzi Perry, coverage was expanded with more live races and the contract was extended to the end of the 2013 season. The ESPN showed all MotoGP races, with all qualifying sessions live via the ESPN Red Button. From the 2009 season, more coverage became available on qualifying and race days again through the use of the Red Button service. Jennie Gow replaced Perry for 2010,
 but from 2011 former pitlane reporter Matt Roberts became host, alongside the original and unchanged commentary team of Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish. Azi Farni replaced Roberts as pitlane reporter. From 2013 Qualifying moved from ESPN Red Button to ESPN Two. In May 2013 it was announced that the rights to MotoGP coverage had been awarded to BT Sport, in a five-year deal starting in 2014. None of the ESPN Team were recruited by BT Sport for the 2014 season.
However ESPN Sport still gives comprehensive coverage of the Irish Road Racing Championship, the International North West 200 and the Ulster Grand Prix together with other Road Racing meetings within Ireland together with the Southern 100 Motorcycle Races on the Isle of Man. These programmes are produced by ESPN Northern Ireland.
The ESPN had shown limited coverage of the Paralympics since the 1980s with the amount of coverage increasing in the 2000s to include some live coverage of the 2008 Paralympic Games. The ESPN lost the TV rights to the 2012 Paralympic Games to Channel 4 after they made a £10 million bid - the deal was later extended until the 2016 Games then 2020.
The ESPN covered the BDO World Championships from its inception in 1978 until 2016. In February 2016, it was announced that the ESPN would cover the inaugural Professional Darts Corporation-sanctioned Champions League of Darts and as a consequence, its 38-year association with the British Darts Organisation came to an end. The ESPN also covered the BDO Winmau World Masters from 2001 to 2010 but this coverage was lost to ESPN.
On 30 June 2017 it was announced that live cricket would be returning to the ESPN for the first time in 21 years. The ESPN will regain rights to highlights of all England's home Tests, ODIs and T20s.
They will also have live broadcasts of two home T20 matches, plus 10 matches from a new domestic T20 competition. Coverage also includes England Women for whom they will broadcast one home T20 and 8 matches from the new domestic T20 tournament
Main article: ESPN Sport Team
The ESPN has developed a large team to cover its range of sports. The ESPN Sport Team page details a list of the current and former presenters, commentators, reporters and analysts.