ESPN The Company: The Story and Lessons Behind the Most Fanatical Brand in Sports

  • 4h 9m
  • Anthony F. Smith, Keith Hollihan
  • John Wiley & Sons (US)
  • 2009

Thirty years ago, TV sports coverage was produced as a sidebar unworthy of serious news time. Game highlights, such as they were, usually consisted of scores and brief recaps crammed into a few minutes between news and weather on your local television channel. That all changed when Bill Rasmussen, an unemployed sports announcer in 1979, and a group of committed sports junkies in Bristol, Connecticut, decided to lease unwanted satellite time to broadcast some local college sports and minor league hockey games. They called their organization the Entertainment & Sports Programming Network which we know today as ESPN, the most powerful and prominent name in sports media, with twenty-seven satellite dishes feeding more than 97 million subscribers. How did Connecticut become the center of the sports universe?

ESPN The Company tells the fascinating story of how ESPN managed to sustain its growth, innovation, and brand in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving marketplace. Based on over twenty years of consulting inside ESPN, Smith provides the reader with firsthand observations, experiences, and research, which reveals for the first time an inside look and feel for the type of organizational psychology and culture that exists at all levels of ESPN. The authors detail four distinct stages in the company's development that the company has gone through illuminating how ESPN's business decisions and accomplishments can be understood in the context of the company's evolution. We ultimately learn that at the heart of ESPN's success is one astoundingly simple principle: serve fans.

After each chapter, the authors share the lessons learned at ESPN about launching and growing a wildly successful enterprise—all the while enhancing economic and human value. The lessons are rich and applicable anywhere, and if you're a fan of business, competition, or sports, you'll enjoy reading and learning from this book.

About the Authors

Anthony F. Smith is cofounder and the Managing Director of Leadership Research Institute, recognized as one of the leading management consulting firms in the world. He has been an active consultant for over twenty years in the areas of organizational change and assessment, team building, executive coaching and development, and leadership training and design. Smith has served clients in a variety of fields, including American Express, the National Football League, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, the National Geographic Society, The Walt Disney Company, Deutsche Bank, and ESPN. His writing has appeared in several publications, including BusinessWeek, the Economist, and Investor's Business Daily, and he is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Taboos of Leadership.

Keith Hollihan is a writer who has collaborated with Smith and many other top business and leadership experts on books and articles covering a wide range of issues that leaders face today. He is the coauthor of the bestseller Everybody Wins and The End of Energy Obesity, both published by Wiley.

In this Book

  • Introduction—The Biggest Business Story in Sports
  • Turning Fanatics into Fans
  • Think like an Incumbent, Act like a Challenger
  • The Right Leader at the Right Time
  • Create Your Own Game
  • Expand the Brand
  • Playing Well with Others
  • Blow the Whistle, Spot the Ball
  • Are You Having Fun?
  • Notes
  • References
  • Photo Insert