According to Sports Business Journal, ESPN has started telling distributors that it’s shutting down ESPN Classic on Jan. 1. The channel was first formed as the Classic Sports Network in 1995 and ESPN purchased it in 1997 and has used it to show replays of historic and memorable sporting events.
Before the internet exploded, ESPN Classic was a mainstay of cable packages across the country. But as replays of games have been uploaded to YouTube and available across the internet, ESPN started de-emphasizing the channel in the 2010s as it focused on other networks like the SEC Network.
While ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and even ESPNEWS are part of most standard cable packages along with the SEC Network and ACC Network, ESPN Classic is now mostly confined to sports packages and exists as an on-demand video channel on the internet.
That on-demand channel is also going away, according to SBJ.
ESPN Classic did show some live events in its history, especially when ESPN needed to push the start of a game to a different channel because another event ran long. The first live event in the channel’s history came in 2000 when it showed the Kingdome’s demolition in Seattle. Danica Patrick’s only IndyCar Series win was also shown on ESPN Classic.