What Does ESPN Stand For, Who Owns It and When Did Disney Buy It?

What Does ESPN Stand For?

ESPN, which started offering premium sports content in 1979, stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.

While this was the origin of the acronym we all know today, some people believe this is no longer the meaning since ESPN itself dropped its longer name in 1985. This was when the name was changed to ESPN, Inc. which was potentially done to save money on printing and painting costs. 

Who Owns ESPN?

An image featuring a microphone stand with the ESPN logo

Currently, ABC owns 80% of ESPN’s holdings while the Heart Corporation owns the other 20%. Since The Walt Disney Company owns ABC, they’re technically the majority owner of ESPN. 

When Did Disney Buy It?

An image featuring the logo of Walt Disney

An 85% share of ESPN was purchased by Getty Oil in 1979 while the founders of ESPN, father and son Bill and Scott Rasmussen, owned the remaining 15%. In 1984, 100% of the company was purchased from the Rasmussen’s and Getty Oil by ABC. The Walt Disney Company purchased ABC for $19 billion on August 1, 1995. This date can be considered the last time that ESPN was sold as it was included when ABC was purchased. 


ESPN was not the main selling point of ABC for The Walt Disney Company. It simply was part of the package deal that The Walt Disney Company was interested in when deciding to purchase ABC.

While it was not the main selling point, the revenue that it’s generated for The Walt Disney Company since their acquisition of ABC has likely been worthwhile in the 25 years since the sale.

Zohair A. Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
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