ESPN History

#TBT: Rasmussen, ESPN and the NCTA

Dallas TX, May 1980: Jim Simpson (l) is shown talking with Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry on a SportsCenter set at the NCTA.
Former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry (R) and former ESPN commentator Jim Simpson at the SportsCenter set on location at the 1980 NCTA convention.

ESPN’s founder William F. Rasmussen describes his revolutionary concept for an all-sports network known as the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) in the press release below, issued before the network fully launched on Sep. 7, 1979.

At the end of the letter, Rasmussen mentions his hope to meet future business partners at the 1979 National Cable & Telecommunications Association Convention, ESPN’s debut at the event. Today is the final day of the 2015 NCTA annual meeting, the Internet and Television Expo (INTX).

“We went to the cable show and we had seven people presenting and five people showed up. The following year [1980], the auditorium was full and they were piping the sound out into the hallways,” Rasmussen said regarding ESPN’s first two NCTA conventions. Click here to watch the full interview.

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