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ESPN Classic to Shutter on Jan. 1

ESPN Classic
(Image credit: Disney)

Disney has begun telling pay TV operators that its increasingly fringe sports channel ESPN Classic will shutter at the end of 2021, Sports Business Daily reports. 

According to the report, the ESPN Classic 2.0 internet service will also go dark. 

The home of epic boxing matches and pivotal World Series games from the past, as well as a few live events, such as the annual Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, ESPN Classic dates back to 1997, when ESPN purchased Classic Sports Network, from Brian Bedol and Steve Greenberg. (Both entrepreneurs went on to found the channel that became the CBS Sports Network.)

Starting in 2014, right around the time Dish dropped ESPN Classic from its main tier and made it a VOD channel, Disney began de-emphasizing ESPN Classic in affiliate negotiations, prioritizing SEC Network, ACC Network and Longhorn Network, and letting operators put Classic on lower tiers. 

Comcast and Altice USA dropped ESPN Classic in 2017, as did Verizon Fios in 2019. 

In the declining linear channel universe, even sports-oriented programmers aren't safe these days. 

In December, Comcast/NBCUniversal is shuttering another all-sports cable channel, NBCSN.