SBD/March 4, 2014/Media

ESPN Prepping For Its Final World Cup For At Least 12 Years, Debuting New Promo



As ESPN enters the run-up to its final FIFA World Cup, the network’s top programming execs say they remain committed to soccer even without the sport’s biggest event. Although Fox Sports snatched the rights to the next two World Cup events in '18 and '22, ESPN will continue to be an aggressive bidder for domestic and int'l soccer rights, said ESPN Senior VP/Programming Scott Guglielmino. In addition to a pending deal for MLS and the U.S. men’s national team World Cup qualifying games, ESPN touts other high-profile int'l deals, including rights to the Mexican national team’s games (through Univision) and about 350 UEFA games that include World Cup qualifiers. Both of those deals run through '18. ESPN holds rights to the Euro '16 tournament and will be at the table for other European leagues as they come up, Guglielmino said. “From a European league perspective, we’re always interested,” he said. “We’re going to take a look at those rights when they come up. We’re going to be smart about the kind of deals that we do.” Guglielmino pointed to the run-up to this summer’s World Cup as the surest sign of the company’s commitment to soccer. ESPN plans to demonstrate that commitment with a marketing push starting this week that marks 100 days until the event starts in Brazil. ESPN will carry all 64 matches live across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN will carry the U.S. team’s three games in the group stage, two of which are scheduled to start at 6:00pm ET. “It’s bittersweet,” Guglielmino said of ESPN’s final World Cup for at least the next 12 years. “We’re going to swing all the way through on this World Cup. We’re going to do it justice.”

NEW WORLD CUP PROMO COMING THIS WEEK: ESPN this week is launching a World Cup spot that focuses on the beauty of the host country, Brazil, and pays homage to the country’s successful soccer history. The 30-second commercial ends with the tag, “But if you want to see true beauty, look at our stars” over images of members of Brazil’s national team. ESPN produced the commercial in-house and will run it across all of its networks. It also plans to insert a network graphic in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that counts down from 100 days to the event. ESPN will use the graphic during all of its soccer programming on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. ESPN tomorrow will carry seven int'l friendly matches across its platforms, including a U.S. game against Ukraine that will be played in Cyprus. Other matches that day include Spain-Italy and Mexico-Nigeria. Guglielmino said these high-profile friendly games will do as much to market the World Cup as anything else. “Teams are working out who their new players are and who’s going to be making the trip to Brazil,” he said. “That’s the story. We’re going to tell that story all the way up to when airplanes leave for Brazil.” During the run-up to the World Cup, ESPN will supplement its live-game programming with televised and online vignettes on the players that will make up the U.S. team. “We want the American public and those that will be rooting for the U.S. team to understand who these players are and where they’re from and what their stories are,” he said. “We were successful in 2010 bringing in a much broader audience. That broader audience is the one that we’re interested in introducing and uncovering this time around, too.”
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