From the Blog

Want To Start The Next ESPN? Bill Rasmussen Has The F.A.C.T.S You Need To Succeed

“More sports than anyone has ever done.” That was Bill Rasmussen’s mission when he founded ESPN, and it’s the same mission the company strives for today. Direct and to the point: it’s the way Bill operates. We recently had the opportunity to hear about some of Bill’s business philosophies firsthand. From the man himself:

On Starting a Business: “You don’t have to be smart to start a business. You don’t have to know everything about everything. You just need the F.A.C.T.S.”

Finance – Bill went to six potential investors before finally securing Getty Oil as ESPN’s financial backer.

Advertising – Anheuser-Busch offered Bill $50,000; he said no. Bill accepted their offer of $1.2 million, which went up to $5 million the next year, and $25 million just a few years later. The amount sits around $75 million today.

Content – Bill and his team decided ESPN would focus on college sports. This was one of the simplest aspects of Bill’s startup.

Technology – The cable offices were the most difficult sell for Bill. The cable providers started at 2.4 cents per viewer; today they get $5.64 per month, per household.

Subscribers or Customers – From day one, ESPN kept the focus on the fans, and that’s still how the company is successfully run today.

Strategy: ESPN kept running until the other team figured it out. ESPN aired opposite the evening news, even though everyone told them they were setting themselves up for failure. At that time, the news had 93% total viewership; today it has 12% of viewership.

Obstacles: There will always be obstacles to starting and running a business. It is important to see obstacles as challenges instead of potential failures. Bill’s biggest obstacle in starting ESPN was getting the cable networks to agree. Today, cable companies are just as happy to provide their customers with a product like ESPN as viewers are to watch it.


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