ESPN With the purchase of Capital Cities/ABC, Disney acquired 80 percent ownership of the ESPN and ESPN2 cable networks. ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, was launched in 1979, and its sister network, ESPN2, came along in 1993. In 1997, a new division of The Disney Store was created, named ESPN – The Store, to offer sports merchandise in malls, with the first store opening in the Glendale Galleria in California on September 16. ESPN Magazine debuted March 23, 1998.