|Launched||March 4, 2005|
|Owned by||ESPN Inc.
(The Walt Disney Company 80%/Hearst Corporation 20%)
|Picture format||720p (HDTV)
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina|
ESPN on ABC
|Website||ESPNU official website|
|Dish Network||141 (SD)|
|Available on select cable systems||Check local listings for channels|
|Verizon FiOS||573 (HD)
|AT&T U-Verse||1605 (HD)
|WatchESPN||Watch live (US cable subscribers only)|
ESPNU is an American digital cable and satellite sports television channel that is owned by ESPN Inc., a joint venture between the Disney–ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company (which owns a controlling 80% stake) and the Hearst Corporation (which owns the remaining 20%). It is a sister network to ESPN that is dedicated to coverage of college athletics. ESPNU is based alongside ESPN Plus at its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
As of August 2013, ESPNU is available to approximately 74,445,000 pay television households (65.19% of households with television) in the United States.1
The network was launched on March 4, 2005, from the site of Gallagher-Iba Arena on the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The network's first live event was a semifinal game of the Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball tournament between Southeast Missouri State University and Eastern Kentucky University. The network was launched as a response to rival CSTV (now CBS Sports Network). ESPN was also being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department on allegations of "warehousing" collegiate sporting events from certain conferences, or signing a deal with a conference for all their games, but only televising a small number and not allowing the conference to make other arrangements for television broadcasts.
ESPN and XOS Technologies signed a partnership for college athletics websites to compete directly with CSTV's growing internet presence. On August 28, 2006, ESPNU launched a new SportsCenter spin-off dealing entirely with college sports. That show, called SportsCenterU, was originally scheduled to be broadcast from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, but ESPN instead chose to originate the show from Charlotte. Mike Hall was the show's lead anchor until August 2007, when he left for the new Big Ten Network. He was replaced by Mike Gleason and Lowell Galindo. The two are joined on-set by color commentators that vary depending on the sports season.
The same day as SportsCenterU's debut, ESPNU launched the website ESPNU.com. The site included live streaming college sports events, multi-media player dedicated to college sports, podcasts and ESPN Motion clips of studio programming from the ESPNU television network.
ESPNU expanded its live programming to water polo by broadcasting its first-ever water polo match between the women's teams of Princeton University and Bucknell University on March 28, 2009, from DeNunzio Pool in Princeton, New Jersey.
On May 19, 2009, ESPN announced it had reached a deal with Comcast to carry the channel on the cable provider. The deal allows Comcast to carry ESPNU on a widely distributed digital cable tier, instead of a less popular sports tier.2 ESPNU was rolled out on most Comcast systems in time for the start of the 2009–2010 college football season. This ended several years of negotiations and somewhat of a feud between Comcast and ESPN over carriage of ESPNU.
Also on May 19, 2009, ESPNU reached a new carriage agreement with DirecTV. The channel was moved from the satellite provider's add-on "Sports Pack" to its basic "Choice" package on July 1, 2009, swapping channels and packages with ESPN Classic.3 Cablevision added ESPNU on March 23, 2010.4
On August 4, 2009 Dish Network sued ESPN for $1 million in a federal lawsuit, alleging that ESPN breached its contract by not extending the same carriage terms that the programmer provided to Comcast and DirecTV for ESPNU and ESPN Classic. The lawsuit claims ESPN violated the "Most Favored Nations" clause.5
The next day, ESPN announced it would fight the lawsuit and said in a press release: "We have repeatedly advised Dish that we are in full compliance with our agreement and have offered them a distribution opportunity with respect to ESPNU and ESPN Classic consistent with the rest of the industry. We will not renegotiate settled contracts and will vigorously defend this legal action, the apparent sole purpose of which is to get a better deal."6
Dish Network moved the channel from its "Classic Gold 250" package to its "Classic Bronze 100" package on September 30, 2009. However it claims that it has nothing to do with the lawsuit.7
The 720p high definition simulcast of ESPNU launched on August 28, 2008, to coincide with the start of the college football season.8 The service debuted with the football game between Vanderbilt and Miami University. Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS, Blue Ridge Communications, Atlantic Broadband and Broadstripe carried the HD channel at its launch.9 In late 2008, the HD feed was added by AT&T U-Verse. Bright House Networks began adding the HD channel on a regional basis on November 7, 2009.10 Cablevision added the HD feed on March 23, 2010.4 DirecTV added the HD channel on May 19, 2010.
- See also ESPN significant programming rights.
ESPNU has rights to games of the following conferences:
- ESPNU Bracketology (2006–present)
- ESPNU Coaches Spotlight (2006–present)
- Give 'N Go (2007–present)
- Inside the Big East (2006–present)
- ESPNU Inside the Polls (2005–present)
- ESPNU Recruiting Insider (2006–present)
- SportsCenterU (2006–present)
- College Football Live
- ESPNU College Baseball (2005–present)
- ESPNU College Basketball (2005–present)
- ESPNU College Football (2005–present)
- ESPNU College Hockey (2005–present)
- ESPNU College Lacrosse (2005–present)
- ESPNU College Soccer (2005–present)
- ESPNU College Softball (2005–present)
- ESPNU College Volleyball (2005–present)
- High School Showcase (2005–present)
- Faces of Sports (2005–present)
- Honor Roll (2005–present)
- Seidman, Robert (August 23, 2013). "List of How Many Homes Each Cable Networks Is In - Cable Network Coverage Estimates As Of August 2013". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- Comcast adds ESPNU ESPN Press Release May 5, 2009
- DIRECTV TO OFFER ESPNU IN ITS CHOICE PACKAGE - ESPNU's Distribution More Than 46 Million Subscribers DirecTV Press Release May 19, 2009
- Cablevision Launches ESPNU In Standard-Definition And HD, Expands Free HD Line-Up With Addition Of Disney Channel HD And Other Popular Networks PRWeb.com March 23, 2010
- Dish Sues ESPN Over Classic, ESPNU Carriage Terms - Satellite Operator Alleges Programmer Violated ‘Most-Favored Nations' Contract Clause Multichannel News August 4, 2009
- ESPN: We'll Fight Dish Lawsuit - Sports Programmer Maintains It's In ‘Full Compliance' On Carriage Contract For ESPNU, Classic Multichannel News August 5, 2009
- ESPN: Dish's Move Of ESPNU Unrelated To Lawsuit - Satellite Operator Claimed ESPN Violated Terms of Contract Multichannel News September 30, 2009
- ESPNU To Kick Off In HD Next August Multichannel News December 3, 2007
- ESPNU HD Counts Five Distributors As Launch Nears Multichannel News August 25, 2008
- Bright House Networks Rolls Out CBS College Sports, ESPNU In HD In Central Indiana - Launches Part Of 18 HD Service Debuts In 18 Days Multichannel News November 7, 2009