SBD/Issue 184/Sports Media

ESPN Readies Massive World Cup Coverage, Including 3D Launch

ESPN To Have About 300 People
In South Africa For FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup kicks off Friday morning, and ESPN will have roughly "300 people on the ground" to broadcast all 64 matches on its family of networks, according to Mike Reynolds of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. ESPN will air each game in HD, and its "broadband, mobile, online and Spanish-language outlets and other vehicles will also be similarly engaged with the monthlong tournament." In addition, Friday's Mexico-South Africa opener will launch ESPN 3D, "which will feature 25 matches in the format" throughout the Cup. ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions Scott Guglielmino said the expansive effort surrounding the tournament stems from ESPN being "bullish on the sport." Reynolds notes the commitment "also is reflective of the lead role it took to gain the rights for FIFA events" from '07-14 for about $100M. Previously, ESPN's bids "came in conjunction with broadcast sibling ABC, while it secured the rights" to the '06 World Cup through SUM. Guglielmino said that the network is "not only looking at ratings, but the tournament's cumulative reach: ESPN will gauge multiplatform usage and advertiser activity through the launch of research initiative, ESPN XP." He said, "Our attention is not just centered on TV. ... There also are so many more matches and other content available on and on mobile devices than there were from the 2006 World Cup" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 6/7 issue). In L.A., Dawn Chmielewski noted ESPN "has been tinkering" with the 3D technology "for more than two years before deciding it was ready." ESPN Senior VP/Technology Kevin Stolworthy said that the net is "still learning how best to take advantage of 3-D in a way that enhances the experience -- and avoids projectiles-into-the-eyes gimmickry." Stolworthy: "The goal will be to immerse you in the sport, to give you a seat at the stadium. We're not going to do as much reaching out of the screen to you." He added, "You're going to see more changes as we evolve over the year" (L.A. TIMES, 6/6).

CATALYST FOR UNIVISION TO EXPAND HD: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Reynolds notes with Spanish-language rights in the U.S. to the World Cup, Univision has "significantly built up its base of high-definition carriage and is adding video-on-demand and interactive applications with cable, satellite and telco affiliates." Univision Exec VP/Distribution Sales & Marketing Tonia O'Connor said that "all of Univision's owned-and-operated stations and 90% of TeleFutura's will now be carried" in HD by Friday, and both networks will "present all 64 matches in the enhanced format." DirecTV and Cablevision are "among the carriers that have added the HD versions of Univision and TeleFutura to their lineups." In addition, Univision On Demand during the tournament will "feature hundreds of hours of World Cup content -- on top of its normal 50-hour offering -- that distributors can customize" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 6/7 issue).

ROGERS THAT: Rogers Communications Television Services VP & GM David Purdy said that the CBC has inked a deal with Rogers to "stream the mobile version" of its World Cup coverage to iPhones, BlackBerries and Android-based phones. Purdy: "For a special one-time charge for this event of $10 plus a $5 Video on Demand registration, Rogers customers can stream live games to their mobile phones for the duration of the competition." The GLOBE & MAIL's Ian Harvey notes it is a "massive coup for Rogers since it all but blocks customers of Bell, Telus and other carriers from accessing the games" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/8).

NOW READ THIS: ESPN The Magazine's World Cup Preview issue, which is currently on newsstands, is the magazine's largest issue in three years. The issue is also 110% larger than the comparable June 15 issue last year due to an increase of 42 ad pages. The World Cup Preview issue is ESPN The Magazine's 15th-highest revenue-generating issue in the magazine's 12-year history (ESPN).

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