Disney-owned network will follow NBCSN into the TV graveyard
Disney is shedding an ESPN channel (no not that one).
ESPN Classic, which aired archived old games since 1995, is shutting down at the end of the year, an individual with knowledge of the decision confirmed to TheWrap.
ESPN Classic first launched as the independently-owned Classic Sports Network in 1995. ESPN bought the network and renamed it in 1997. It has been primarily a source for full rebroadcasts of old games and reairs of studio shows, though it sometimes served as an overflow network when there was no channel space for ESPN’s live games.
Sports Business Journal first reported the news.
ESPN Classic had been deemphasized in recent years, and in many cases is offered by cable providers as an on-demand option, rather than a linear network. Some library content had already migrated over to ESPN+. Besides, most people can find old highlights and even full games on YouTube.
ESPN Classic will not be the only sports network to go to the great TV beyond. NBCUniversal’s sports network NBCSN is also shuttering when the clock turns to 2022. The majority of its linear TV programming will move over to USA Network, such as Premier League matches.
NBC Sports Network, abbreviated “NBCSN,” was supposed to be Comcast’s attempt at creating an ESPN challenger, but that never materialized. The channel first launched in 1995 as The Outdoor Life Network (OLN), which primarily featured fishing hunting and other outdoor activities. It eventually began airing the Tour de France and relaunched as Versus in 2006. Following Comcast’s acquisition of NBCU from General Electric in 2011, executives announced their intentions to merge Versus within NBC Sports and create a new national sports cable channel.
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