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INT'L OPERATORS SEARCH FOR WORLD CUP COUNTERPROGRAMMING
Published December 18, 1997
For Hollywood's international distributors and exhibition partners, World Cup '98 "means box office disaster as fans stay home to watch the games" on TV, according to Christopher Pickard of VARIETY. This is "forcing the entertainment community to come up with contingency plans" for the key weekends of June 12-14, 19-21 and 26-28, and July 3-5 and 10-12. In some markets, distributors and exhibitors will try counterprogramming, or cut ticket prices to lure the few not watching soccer; "in other parts of the world, the business is expected simply to go into hibernation until the championship is awarded." In addition, women's interest in soccer is a "complicating factor when it comes to planning any form of counterprogramming." Overall, 41 billion viewers are expected to watch the World Cup games (VARIETY, 12/21). AT HOME: Despite hosting the '94 Cup, "the U.S. seems to remain blissfully unaware of the full impact of the Cup outside its borders." Pickard notes that some countries declare national holidays when their teams play. But Pickard adds, "Chances are the U.S. media still underestimate the interest in the games within America, especially given the large immigrant population" (VARIETY, 12/21 issue).