Sportscasting Wiki

ESPN on ABC logo, September 2006-Present

ESPN on ABC screenshot, HD version. Note the ESPN logo in the scorebox, the ESPN BottomLine, and the ABC logo in the lower right hand corner.

SD version of ESPN graphics on ABC, with the network bug in the corner.

ESPN on ABC is the brand used for sports programming on the ABC television network. On September 2, 2006, the former ABC Sports division was fully integrated into ESPN, which, like ABC, is controlled by The Walt Disney Company. [1] Programming on ABC currently has the ESPN logo in the digital on-screen graphic displaying the game score, and use the ESPN BottomLine and SportsCenter In-Game Updates. The change was made to better orient ESPN viewers with the programming on ABC. The ABC logo is used on the watermark-like digital on-screen graphic in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, and is also used for promotions so that viewers will know to tune into the broadcast network and not cable ESPN. [2]

ABC Sports[]

Under Capital Cities[]

Like its longtime competitors CBS Sports and NBC Sports, ABC Sports was originally just the sports division of a major American network, ABC. The seeds of its eventual integration with ESPN occurred when ABC bought majority control of ESPN in 1984. A year later, Capital Cities Communications bought ABC. Although some ESPN sportscasters such as John Saunders and Dick Vitale began to also appear on ABC Sports telecasts, ESPN and ABC Sports continued to operate separately.

Under the Walt Disney Company[]

After the The Walt Disney Company bought Capital Cities/ABC in 1996, Disney started to slowly integrate ESPN and ABC Sports. ESPN personalities like Chris Berman, Mike Tirico, and Brad Nessler worked on ABC Sports programs. In 1998, ESPN adopted ABC Sports' Monday Night Football graphics and music for its Sunday Night Football broadcasts. During that same year, ESPN signed a five year deal to televise National Hockey League (NHL) games, whereby the cable network essentially bought time on ABC to air selected NHL games. This was noted in copyright beds at the conclusion of the telecasts, i.e. "The Preceding Program has been paid for by ESPN, Inc." ESPN then signed a similar television rights contract in 2002 so it could produce and broadcast National Basketball Association (NBA) games on ABC. Major League Soccer telecasts have a similar arrangement.


Alternate ABC Sports logo, 2001-2006

Between 2000-2002, many ABC Sports programs utilized graphics almost identical to those of ESPN. Until 2004, ABC used the exact same graphics as ESPN for college basketball, NBA and NHL games and Games 3-7 (with the lone differences being the time/score graphic and the ABC Sports logo replacing ESPN's). One notable exception was Monday Night Football, which switched to different graphics as part of then-new producer Don Ohlmeyer's attempt to provide some new vigor into those telecasts. From 2002 to 2005, ABC changed graphics each fall, while ESPN's basically remained consistent. Both ESPN and ABC switched to new graphics to coincide with the FIFA World Cup in 2006.

Meanwhile, Disney continued to consolidate the corporate structure of ESPN and ABC Sports. Steve Bornstein was given the title as president of both ESPN and ABC Sports in 1996. The sales, marketing, and production departments of both divisions were eventually merged. Thus, ESPN uses some union production crews for its coverage (as the networks normally do), whereas non-union personnel is quite common in cable sports broadcasting.

The End of ABC Sports[]

It was announced in 2006 that ABC Sports would be totally integrated into ESPN, using ESPN graphics, music, and production. The brand integration does not directly affect whether ESPN (the cable channel) or ABC carries a particular event, as in most cases this is governed by contracts with the applicable league or organization. Perhaps confusingly, this means that some events, such as the British Open, will be broadcast with ESPN branding during ABC coverage, even though another channel (in this case TNT) owns the cable rights.

The last live sporting event televised by ABC Sports was the United States Championship Game in the Little League World Series on Saturday, August 26, 2006 (ABC was slated to carry the Little League World Series Championship Game on Sunday, August 27, but the game was postponed to Monday August 28 due to rain, subsequently airing on ESPN2).

However, ABC used its own graphics (with the ABC logo), to cover the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, similar to the ESPN graphics but with a yellow base.

The Beginning of ESPN on ABC[]

The changeover took effect to coincide with the start of the college football season, with the NBA, IndyCar Series, and NASCAR coverage eventually following suit.

On Christmas Day 2006, ESPN on ABC hosted the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Miami Heat for the third year in a row. This was the NBA's first broadcast on ABC since the integration with ESPN, though the NBA on ABC returned in 2002 after an almost 3-decade absence.

Despite the re-branding, ABC Sports appears to still legally exist; George Bodenheimer's official title has remained "president, ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports"[3] despite the re-branding, while ABC itself maintains the copyright over many of the ESPN-branded broadcasts, if they are not contractually assigned to the applicable league or organizer.[4] This appears to be a minor technicality stemming from ESPN being technically a joint venture of Disney (80%) and Hearst Corporation (20%), even though it is operated as a Disney subsidiary. It is not known if Hearst derives any direct revenue from ABC broadcasts


  • When ABC was airing the Saturday morning cartoon series Laff-A-Lympics between 1976 and 1979, commentators Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf were drawn to be wearing the then-traditional yellow jackets of ABC Sports commentators.
  • From 1968 to 1997, ABC Sports programs ended with the line "This has been a presentation of ABC Sports - Recognized around the world as the leader in sports television."

Programs throughout the years[]

The programs[]

  • College football (1961-present)
    • Former home of exclusive NCAA package
    • Currently first pick of ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10 matchups
    • Rose Bowl (1989-present), Capital One Bowl
    • Saturday nights (2006-present)
  • College Basketball
    • Select ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC matchups
  • Little League World Series (1963-present)
  • Auto racing
    • Champ Car World Series (1983-2001, 2007-present)
    • IndyCar Series (1996-2009)
      • Indianapolis 500 (1965-2009)
    • NASCAR (1961, 1971, 1975-1976, 1979-1982, 1984-2000, now on ESPN)
      • Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (1994-2000, 2007-2014)
  • World Cup Soccer (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
  • Major League Soccer (1996-present)
  • X Games (1997-present)
  • NBA on ABC (1965-1973; 2002-2016)
  • WNBA (2002-2016)
  • Belmont Stakes (1986-2000, 2006-2007)
  • Arena Football League (1998-2002, 2007-)
  • British Open, Women's British Open and Senior British Open golf (through 2009)
  • Scripps National Spelling Bee (2006-present)

Former programs[]

  • Monday Night Football (1970-2005, now on ESPN)
    • Super Bowls XIX, XXII, XXV, XXIX, XXXIV, XXXVII, and XL
  • ABC Game of the Week (1953-1954, 1960-1965)
  • Monday Night Baseball (1976-1988, telecasts moved to Thursday for 1989)
    • 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989 World Series
  • The NHL on ABC (1992-1994, 1999-2004)
  • Baseball Night in America (1994 and 1995)
    • 1995 World Series (Games 1, 4, & 5)
  • Formula One racing (2001-2002)
  • Winter Olympic Games (1964, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988)
  • Summer Olympic Games (1968, 1972, 1976, 1984)
  • U.S. Open (early 1960s-1994, now on NBC)
  • American Football League (1960-1964)
  • PGA Championship (until 1990, now on CBS and TNT)
  • LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship (1991-2005)
  • PGA Tour golf (through 1978, 1999-2006)
  • Wide World of Sports (1961-1996 as a series, blanket title circa 1996-2006)
  • Pro Bowlers Tour (1962-1997)
  • North American Soccer League (1979-1981)
  • Kentucky Derby (1975-2000)
  • Preakness Stakes (1977-2000)
  • World League of American Football (1991-1992 as "ABC's World League")
  • Army-Navy Game (1992-1995)

Notable personalities[]

  • Roone Arledge
  • Gary Bender
  • Jack Buck
  • Howard Cosell
  • Chet Forte

  • Frank Gifford
  • Curt Gowdy
  • Chuck Howard
  • Keith Jackson
  • Jim Lampley

Main Competitors[]

Quotes about the demise of ABC Sports[]








  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. ABC press release, May 1, 2007
  4. For instance, the copyright disclaimers at the end of ABC's college football broadcasts read "©xxxx American Broadcasting Companies, Inc."

External links[]