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Bill Rasmussen '54 Returns to Bristol, Where He Founded ESPN

August 29, 2009

Bill Rasmussen Bristol Aug2009.jpgAugust 29, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — "No one knew anything about satellites" thirty-one years ago, when 1954 DePauw University graduate Bill Rasmussen came up with the idea for ESPN, notes Connecticut's Bristol Press. When Rasmussen launched the sports network, "only 12 million households in the whole country had cable television -- most of them simply to improve lousy reception," writes Jackie Majerus. "The very idea of paying for television in 1978 seemed ludicrous, according to Rasmussen." (photo: Mike Orazzi/Bristol Press)

The entrepreneur and author of the book Sports Junkies Rejoice! The Birth of ESPN addressed the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce in Bristol yesterday.  Rasmussen described how he and his son, Scott, a 1986 DePauw graduate, launched the network thirty years ago, and says he was confident in its success from the start.

"Sports is too universal," Bill Rasmussen says. "Something that’s got that wide a base is not going to fail."Bill Rasmussen Sports Junkies.jpg

According to Majerus, Rasmussen "got the idea to use cable television to broadcast New England college sports, and it blossomed when he learned more about the cost of using a satellite -- it was far cheaper to pay for 24-hour access than to buy an hour at a time, and for the same price, he could expand his reach far beyond the region."

The article notes that Rasmussen's latest venture is College Fanz Sports Network.

Read the full story at the Press' Web site.

Bill Rasmussen, who has been called "the father of cable sports" by USA Today, was recently featured in Nebraska's Grand Island Independent, where he also discussed ESPN's early days. Learn more here.

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