The year is 1984. ESPN has just become America's biggest cable TV channel, reaching nearly 30 million homes. It has not, however, yet shown a profit. Perhaps in an attempt to create a new revenue stream (the days of five-dollar subscriber fees being well into the future) the brains in Bristol started selling ESPN-branded merchandise—and had on-air talent hawk it during promo breaks.
You can see one of those breaks above, sent to us by reader Aloysius. "I see a lot of ballclubs, but none of them has a jacket like this one" exhibits the fine writing quality that inspired ABC to spend $230 million on the still-nascent network. "If it wasn't comfortable, I wouldn't wear it!"
The satin jacket wasn't available in stores, so Berman insists we're getting a "special TV price" of $49.95. That's more than $110 in 2013 money. But look! The ESPN logo is stitched into the satin! And lest you think you'd be twins with Berman—a "You're with me, satin," if you were—he lets you know that "all of the guys at ESPN wear them." (We will pay cash money for a photo of Bob Ley wearing one of these.)
Maybe even better than the jacket ad, though, is this promo for ESPN's programming that aired right before Berman's appearance:
We're assuming this ran on Monday, October 22, 1984. The Laguna Seca 300 took place the previous Saturday (spoiler: Bobby Rahal won) and it's a fantastic look at what kind of programming ESPN was running during weeknights in those days. It does, however, remind us of something:
Bring back the 80s!