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VIVE LA FRANCE! WORLD CUP COMES TO A CLOSE WITH STUNNER
Published July 13, 1998
ABC's telecast of Sunday's Brazil-France World Cup Final earned a 6.9/17 overnight rating. The '94 Brazil- Italy Final earned a national rating of 9.5/24 (THE DAILY). STICKING WITH THE PLAN: In Miami, Anne Moncreiff Arrarte reports that despite "weak ratings" for the '98 World Cup, ABC "plans to continue promoting soccer and cover" the 2002 event. ABC Senior VP/Network Operations & Development David Downs said that the net expected a 5 or 6 rating for the Final. Downs said that "part of the problem" with the lower ratings this year is that companies like McDonald's and Coca-Cola "have done little advertising to the general market, assuming most Americans aren't interested." Both have directed much of their advertising toward U.S. Hispanics, and Hispanic media has seen high ratings throughout the World Cup (MIAMI HERALD, 7/13). TV REPORT CARD: In Toronto, Rob Longley gives ABC an "F" for its coverage. Longley writes that ABC, led by Bob Ley, "preferred clogging the commentary with stats and obvious observations." Longley gives the BBC an "A" for its coverage, noting that it "stayed away from the obvious, adding analysis and description only when necessary." In Canada, TSN went with the BBC feed (TORONTO SUN, 7/13). Also in Toronto, Chris Zelkovich said the BBC commentators "raised play-calling to a new level." Also on Zelkovich's "Hit" list was ABC's decision to run the games without commercials (TORONTO STAR, 7/13). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke writes that the World Cup "was not important enough, apparently, for ABC to provide world-class coverage that U.S. fans see on the Super Bowl" and other top events. Martzke: "ABC could have provided better graphics to aid viewers who didn't know these players. ... For the 2002 Cup, ABC should put in a Super Bowl effort" (USA TODAY, 7/13). U.S. AGAINST THE WORLD: The state of soccer in the U.S. was examined in the weekend media, and Kirk Johnson wrote in Sunday's N.Y. TIMES that soccer "remains as mysterious to vast numbers of Americans as it was when all they saw of it was grainy photographs of Pele," and in the U.S., "soccer as a national passion still remains pint-sized." Stephen Hardy, a professor of sports studies at the Univ. of NH, says that the marketing of soccer is "American free enterprise at its best, and its worst. There's been no uniform presentation of the sport, and with so many different approaches to selling the game, it's like clutter" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/12). In S.F., Glenn Dickey: "Until we see youngsters kicking around a soccer ball in unsupervised play on the playgrounds and in the streets, forget about the U.S. ever being a major factor in the World Cup" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/13). In Orange County, Mark Emmons said the World Cup was a "yawn" in the U.S. and the "question has now become whether Americans ever will embrace soccer as a spectator sport" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/12).