ESPN, formerly the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, is an American cable television Television network dedicated to broadcasting sports-related programming 24 hours a day. It was founded by Scott Rasmussen and his father Bill Rasmussen, and launched on September 7 1979 under the direction of Chet Simmons, who was the network's first President and CEO. The current president, since November 19, 1998, of ESPN is George Bodenheimer. Bodenheimer is also the current head of ESPN on ABC, having been named to that position on March 3, 2003. Its signature telecast, SportsCenter, debuted with the network and aired its 25,000th episode on August 25 2002. ESPN broadcasts primarily out of its studios in Bristol, Connecticut; it also operates offices out of Charlotte, San Francisco, and Los Angeles which will open in 2009. ESPN is available in over 90 million homes in the United States and over 147 countries and territories via ESPN International. The name of the sport company was lengthened to "ESPN Inc." in February 1985.

ESPN unofficially refers to itself as "The Worldwide Leader in Sports"; the slogan appears on nearly all company media, though its origin is unknown.

The network has been credited with helping the growth of NASCAR by covering a large number of races in the 80's and 90's. In 2001 ESPN lost the rights to broadcast races to FOX and NBC. A new television deal starting in 2007 marks the return of NASCAR to ESPN, with seven Nextel Cup races. ESPN 2 will broadcast the Busch series races exclusively.

The film Days of Thunder features several segments of fictional ESPN reporting, along with several actual ESPN NASCAR commentators. Tom Cruise's character Cole Trickle claims to have learned much about NASCAR "by watching ESPN."