On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to acquire 21st Century Fox (Fox Sports' parent) for $52.4 billion; this will include key assets such as 20th Century Fox, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, its regional sports networks, and its international networks. The Fox television network, Fox News Channel, and the non-regional Fox Sports assets (Fox Sports 1 and 2 (FS1 and FS2) cable channels, and the part of Fox Sports attached to the Fox television network) will be spun off into an independent company run by the Murdoch family.
On December 7, 1980 the San Francisco 49ers overcame a halftime deficit of 28 points in what became the greatest regular season comeback victory in NFL regular season history. By the beginning of the third quarter, notorious Vegas bookmaker Frank Rosenthal received forfeiture notices from 246 San Francisco bettors totaling more than $25,000 in premature winnings. Rosenthal was able to retain these winnings despite the final outcome of the game due to gambling regulations previously established by the NAGRA.
ESPN has been criticized for focusing too much on men's college and professional sports, and very little on women's sports or extreme sports. Ice hockey and soccer fans have also criticized ESPN for not giving their respective sports more coverage. Other criticism has focused on ethnicity in ESPN's varying mediated forms, as well as carriage fees and issues regarding the exportation of ESPN content. Some critics argue that ESPN's success is their ability to provide other enterprise and investigative sports news while competing with other hard sports-news-producing outlets such as Yahoo! Sports and Fox Sports. Some scholars have challenged ESPN's journalistic integrity calling for an expanded standard of professionalism to prevent biased coverage and conflicts of interest.
Since September 2006, ESPN has been integrated with the sports division of sister broadcast network ABC, with sports events televised on that network airing under the banner ESPN on ABC; much of ABC's sports coverage since the rebranding has become increasingly limited to secondary coverage of sporting events whose broadcast rights are held by ESPN (such as NBA games, and the X Games and its related qualifying events) as well as a limited array of event coverage not broadcast on ESPN (most notably, the NBA Finals).
A new graphics package for Fox Sports broadcasts was introduced for Fox's NASCAR coverage leading up to the 2014 Daytona 500. Fox Sports Midwest producer Max Leinwand described the look as being "cleaner" than the previous design. The design has also been used to introduce new design conventions for some of Fox's graphics; for NASCAR, the running order ticker was replaced by a leaderboard-style display that was initially displayed as a vertical sidebar. MLB uses a score bug at the bottom-right (initially at the bottom-left) of the screen instead of the top-left, while NFL utilized a top-left score bug with a layout similar to the one used 2010 to 2011.
On October 10, 1993, ESPN2 – a secondary channel that originally was programmed with a separate lineup of niche sports popular with males 18–49 years old (with snowboarding and the World Series of Poker as its headliners) as well as serving as an overflow channel for ESPN – launched on cable systems reaching to 10 million subscribers. It became the fastest growing cable channel in the U.S. during the 1990s, eventually expanding its national reach to 75 million subscribers.
Several additional states such as Louisiana, Connecticut, Mississippi, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, California, South Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Ohio, New York, and West Virginia, began drafting bills to legalize sports betting soon after New Jersey and Delaware. Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia were able to pass legislation legalizing sports betting within their states.
Sports bettors place their wagers either legally, through a bookmaker/sportsbook, or illegally through privately run enterprises. The term "book" is a reference to the books used by wagebrokers to track wagers, payouts, and debts. Many legal sportsbooks are found online, operated over the Internet from jurisdictions separate from the clients they serve, usually to get around various gambling laws (such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in the United States) in select markets, such as Las Vegas, Nevada, or on gambling cruises through self-serve kiosks. They take bets "up-front", meaning the bettor must pay the sportsbook before placing the bet. Illegal bookies, due to the nature of their business, can operate anywhere but only require money from losing bettors and don't require the wagered money up front, creating the possibility of debt to the bookie from the bettor. This creates a number of other criminal elements, thus furthering their illegality.