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SBD Global/January 13, 2014/Media

ESPN Expects More World Cup Growth In 2014, Announces New Football Film Series

ESPN execs said that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil "will be significantly boosted" from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa "thanks to proximate time zones and growing U.S. interest," according to Michael O'Connell of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. And ESPN "expects to pass the torch on a high note." Network Senior VP and EP of event production Jed Drake met with reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Saturday, where he said that "internal ratings predictions are up quite a bit" from the '10 games. Drake: "I can't give you an exact number in terms of percentage increase, but it is significant over 2010." A number of factors "work in ESPN's favor, but none are likely bigger than the timing of the games." When the tournament starts June 12, Rio de Janeiro "will only be one hour ahead" of the Eastern Time Zone. Primetime games will start at 6pm on the East Coast and 3pm on the West Coast. ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas said, "You don't have to sneak out of work, go to the bar, and then go back to work. You can go to the bar, drink and keep drinking." ESPN "also has a stronger U.S. team in its corner this time around -- and an increased awareness" of the sport. Stateside World Cup ratings jumped 41% in '10 from the '06 games (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 1/11).

SOCCER STORIES: ESPN Films will premiere a new series in April surrounding the 2014 World Cup on ESPN. "Soccer Stories" will include a mix of standalone, feature-length and 30-minute-long documentary films from award-winning filmmakers telling narratives around the football landscape. In addition, a collection of 10 vignettes about Brazil's culture will be featured throughout ESPN's World Cup programming (ESPN). THE WRAP's Tony Maglio reported the two feature-length films are “Hillsborough,” directed by Daniel Gordon -- the first film in the series, launching on April 22 -- and “White, Blue and White,” directed by Camilo Antolini and produced by Juan Jose Campanella. The six 30-minute films are “Garrincha: Crippled Angel,” “Barbosa -- The Man Who Made All of Brazil City,” “Ceasefire Massacre,” “The Opposition,” “Mysteries of the The Jules Rimet Trophy,” and “Maradona ’86” (THE WRAP, 1/11).
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