Founded in 1979, ESPN did well through the ’80s and ’90s as the U.S.’s primary media source exclusively devoted to covering and broadcasting the games people play. But ESPN is now bigger than “The Total Sports Network.” It’s more than an entertainment empire. The decentralization of media and the disruptive influence of technology—ubiquitous screens, plentiful bandwidth, and generous digital storage making it possible to watch anything, anywhere, anytime—have made big-ticket sports the only events that still regularly attract a mass global audience. No outlet owns the rights to more of those properties—including the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, major-conference college football, all four Grand Slam tennis championships, Major League Soccer, Nascar, and golf’s U.S. Open, British Open, and the Masters—than ESPN. The company broadcasts more than half of all the live sports seen in the U.S. Through dozens of ESPN-branded TV, Web, and mobile platforms, it also shapes the ways in which leagues, teams, and athletes are packaged, promoted, marketed, and consumed by the public. In a real sense, ESPN no longer covers sports. It controls sports.