On Sept. 7, 1979, ESPN went on the air for the first time. Entrepreneurial daring, irrepressible enthusiasm and a dash of good luck gave the world the first 24-hour television network. Once unleashed upon sports fans, ESPN's impact forever changed the way we watch television. The man who had the dream, the founder of ESPN, is Bill Rasmussen.
A life-long entrepreneur and sports fan, Rasmussen's innovations in advertising, sports and broadcasting are numerous and include the creation of "Sports Center," wall-to-wall coverage of NCAA regular-season and "March Madness" college basketball, and coverage of the NFL Draft. He broke the advertising barrier to cable television by signing Anheuser Busch to the largest cable TV advertising contract ever.
For his many accomplishments, Rasmussen was named to The Sports 100, honoring the 100 most important people in American Sports History. His place in sports history was further recognized by Sports Illustrated in 1994, when he was honored as one of the "Forty for the Ages," one of forty individuals who has significantly altered and elevated the world of sport during the second half of the 20th century. He has been called "The Father of Cable Sports" by USA Today.