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SBD Global/May 29, 2014/Media

ESPN Learns From Past And Focuses On Collaboration For World Cup Coverage

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A cup of coffee and a few copies -- that was it. During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, ESPN USA employees seeking a better cup of coffee would grab one in the offices of ESPN Brazil. In turn, ESPN Brazil employees would use the Xerox machine in the offices of ESPN USA. That was the only collaboration between the two networks back then, according to Amy Rosenfeld, coordinating producer at ESPN USA. Four years later, the situation has changed. Both networks, along with colleagues from Argentina and Mexico, have been working together for the past three years in preparation for this summer’s tournament in Brazil and learned from their mistakes. “Boy did we miss the boat,” Rosenfeld said. “There’s a lot that I’ve learned about journalism, there’s a lot I’ve learned about soccer and there’s a hell of a lot I’ve learned about Brazil working with [ESPN Brazil Senior Newsroom Editor in Chief] Renata Netto and her team.” ESPN will tackle the 2014 World Cup as one global organization. For Rosenfeld and Netto, the two women spearheading ESPN’s coverage in their respective countries, it has been like night and day. The two regularly have phone conversations to coordinate their staff, exchanging ideas and avoiding wasting resources. While it is not the first World Cup for either of them, this year’s edition in Brazil has a special feeling, according to Netto. “In our country soccer is like a religion. Brazilian matchdays are holidays. The country really stops. You are not going to see anyone on the streets during the match, schools don’t have classes and banks are closed, so everyone is really united for one purpose,” she said. Though enthusiasm for football in the U.S. has not yet reached the same level, Rosenfeld believes that coverage in the U.S. does not have to be skewed toward casual fans, women, pre-teens or millennials. She thinks that the spectacular images of a World Cup and the beauty of the sport itself will attract viewers. Rosenfeld added that ESPN does not have to create excitement because the excitement already exists. It just needs to document it. ESPN Brazil on the other hand counts on its journalistic skills to steal viewers away from one of the other five rights holders in the country. Netto said that the network counts on its ability to provide better analysis, a greater variety of opinions and next-level information to set itself apart from the rest. Collaboration between ESPN’s U.S. and Brazilian businesses is crucial in achieving these individual goals. From sharing studio space and studio analysts to gathering in-depth information on the main contenders, both networks will rely heavily on each other. “We would be dead in the water without the help of ESPN Brazil,” Rosenfeld said.

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The World Cup, which kicks off on June 12, will see several new technological developments. While more sophisticated cameras and lenses, and a standard camera plan of 34 at each stadium, will provide greater image quality, social media will play a big role in ESPN’s coverage plans. Rosenfeld said that the soccer community, in the U.S. and globally, is a huge consumer of social media. Due to the fans’ high social media engagement, it will be important for the network to communicate through these channels. “It really is just an extension of the linear TV audience,” Rosenfeld said. “We will be very aggressive in that area.” Netto added that many football players are addicted to Twitter and are willing to share important information through their accounts. Therefore, ESPN Brazil is working on methods to include such tweets in real time in its shows. Another technical feature that will improve the coverage are backpacks that allow reporters to transmit signals without an uplink, which is highly beneficial considering the size of Brazil.
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