King: Dot.com’s Sweet 16
The 1995 Final Four featured far more than a festival of Razorbacks, Tar Heels, Cowboys and eventual champion Bruins. That sleepless Seattle weekend also played host to the announcement of a partnership between ESPN and the Paul Allen-owned company Starwave … a partnership that would give birth to a venture then known as ESPNETSportsZone.com.
Sixteen years later, that innovative starburst of service to fans continues to chug along under the more familiar — and pronounceable — name “ESPN.com.” Our official birthday: April 2. As we blow out each of those sweet 16 candles, we find ourselves every bit as passionate about serving sports fans as ever.
The journey thus far has been rich with milestones. Fantasy Football made its debut in August 1995, a mere five months after the site’s launch. Fantasy Baseball would follow the next year. GameCast and live fantasy drafts arrived in 1997, audio chats began in 1999, and both Page 2 and ESPNdeportes.com appeared in 2000. ESPNRadio.com, live audio streaming and the incomparable Bill Simmons rolled out in 2001. And the ensuing 10 years produced rich advancements in award-winning journalism, video, Fantasy game features, live data and statistical information.
From Day 1 to today, former and current ESPN.com staffers have cherished the opportunity to serve fans. The number we’re sporting as of April 2, 2011 — the number 16 — happens to have been worn by a collection of athletes who, combined, form a pretty good mission statement.
So in the year ahead, we’re going to work to make sure that fans who visit ESPN.com each day encounter a site that’s as passionate as Bobby Clarke, as cool as Joe Montana, as sophisticated as Pau Gasol and as exciting as Denard Robinson.
Achieving that would be pretty sweet.