Sports fans who can’t get enough of watching legendary games of the past are in for a disappointment: ESPN Classic is shutting down early next year.
The 26-year-old channel will cease operation on January 1, 2022, a Disney spokesperson confirmed. ESPN Classic is currently available in just 2 million homes, substantially fewer than the brand’s flagship networks of ESPN and ESPN 2, which are each available in about 85 million homes.
Launched as the Classic Sports Network in 1995, ESPN acquired the brand in 1997. The channel has been disappearing from cable packages for the past several years as its parent company, Disney, began offering distributors other options to carry, including college sports channels such as the SEC Network and Longhorn Network.
ESPN Classic once featured original programming, including the comedy show Cheap Seats, and still airs reruns of notable sporting events.
Sports Business Journal first reported the news.
Earlier this year, NBCUniversal announced it was shutting down NBC Sports Network on December 31. Sports programming on the channel, including Premier League soccer and NASCAR, will shift to USA Network, CNBC, E! and the company’s streaming service Peacock.
Cable companies have been under strain in recent years as consumers “cut the cord,” choosing instead to pay for streaming services such as Netflix or ESPN+ rather than traditional cable. The moves also increase the value of a network’s remaining cable channels to distributors.
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