The History of Sportscasting – Presented by Will Selva

Currently serving as an anchor at ESPN, Will Selva hosts some of the network’s most prominent shows, including NBA Tonight, First Take, SportsCenter, and College Football Live. Mr. Selva holds a degree in Broadcast Journalism from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He has served as a sportscaster with a number of networks and stations prior to accepting his current position.


Sportscasting originally began on the radio with a number of famous radio announcers. Radio sportscasters focused on the excitement of the game, conveying the atmosphere of a sporting event as well as the score and other vital information. During the early days of radio, sportscasters often worked from studios away from the action, recreating the game from basic wire service reports.


Sports programming helped make television popular soon after it began gaining appeal with the mass market. During the late 1940s, as much as 30 percent of the television schedule during primetime was composed of sports programming. Sportscasters became the voice of sports for many viewers, as fans identified the announcers with a given sport or team.


In 1960, instant replay technology debuted, allowing television viewers to closely examine plays, making chaotic sports like football much more accessible via television. Soon after the development of instant replay, CBS paid a then unheard-of $28 million for the rights to broadcast National Football League games and established two major sponsorship contracts.


In 1979, ESPN debuted, establishing a new era for television sportscasting and becoming the first profitable network on basic cable. Currently, viewers in more than 59 million American households receive ESPN. Today, many sportscasters are prominent figures in their own right, having established strong relationships with viewers and the sports they announce.

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