ESPN’s longest-running programming relationship is with the NCAA.
Today, we announced that it will continue until at least 2024.
The marriage began in 1978, before ESPN launched, when founder Bill Rasmussen put together the proposal to the NCAA that you can see here.
Depending on what he was selling, Bill would use different titles as VP of sales, marketing or engineering. In this he is Vice President/Programming, but sales or marketing would have worked for the opening: “This proposal represents the most exciting concept ever presented to the cable television industry.”
A review of the six-page document shows that in many ways ESPN’s relationship with the NCAA hasn’t changed much. The focus remains on providing college fans a depth of high quality game and studio coverage. Immediacy now is a much bigger priority.
Rasmussen demonstrated his visionary streak in his conclusion: “The time has come to carefully evaluate the impact of cable and learn how to put it to work for your products and services.”
Fortunately for college fans, the NCAA listened and for three decades its championships have been cornerstone programming for ESPN’s growing array of platforms.