ESPN’s big bet on mainstream sports and superstars cemented dominance

ESPN is dominant. If you’re not yet aware of that fact, you may as well get used to the sports network’s motto “The Worldwide Leader In Sports,” because it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The US’ close to 100 million households with cable subscriptions pay over $ 5 per month just for the privilege of ESPN’s channels, and even with the 34-year-old company facing competition from the internet and ever diversifying, niche interests, ratings keep going up. In his latest column for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson points out that ESPN faced weakening viewership back in 2005, but it was a bet on blockbusters like football and baseball — and a small group of superstars including Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, and Tim Tebow — that’s made the…

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