FIFA May Ax 3D For '14 World Cup, Citing ESPN Dropping Its Channel
FIFA is "considering scrapping 3-D broadcasts of the next World Cup, describing ESPN's decision to abandon the format as another setback for the technology," according to Rob Harris of the AP. FIFA TV Dir Niclas Ericson said, "It's clear when a big sports broadcaster like ESPN makes an announcement like that it creates a lot of extra tension (for the technology)." The '10 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was "the first to be broadcast in 3-D, with 25 of the 64 matches screened in the format." But data shows "only an estimated 6 percent of TVs in the U.S. can show" 3D programming. FIFA has "sent out questionnaires to rights holders to assess their interest in 3-D coverage for its showpiece tournament in Brazil next year." Ericson said there is interest from "several broadcasters'' to retain 3D feeds, but he added FIFA is still "reviewing the cost of it" (AP, 6/19).
AT THE COPA, COPACABANA: ESPN will use Rio de Janeiro sailing club Clube dos Marimbas as its production HQs for the '14 World Cup. Over 280 original hours of coverage on ESPN's English-language nets will originate from the club, located on Copacabana Beach. ESPN will build two studios, one for ESPN Deportes and ESPN International programming, as well as a multi-purpose studio for ESPN's English-language U.S. nets. World Cup-branded shows will broadcast from the club throughout the month of the tournament (ESPN). ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Jed Drake said, "We selected this place because of the vista. I have never seen anything close to it for a backdrop for a host set." SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote, "Given that international soccer is more popular four years later and the time zone works to ESPN advantage -- most of Brazil is one-hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone in the U.S -- the ratings are going to increase" compared to the '10 World Cup. It also is ESPN's "final World Cup before Fox Sports takes over so ESPN staffers want to make this memorable." Drake: "I really think what we achieved in 2010 was a changing of the perception of the World Cup in this country. We know the level of ambition has to be higher because the expectation from our viewers was not that high the last time. Now, it is sky-high" (SI.com, 6/16).