ESPN's Ian Darke Will Be Lead Play-By-Play Announcer For FIFA World Cup In Brazil
ESPN yesterday announced that Ian Darke will be its lead play-by-play commentator for coverage of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Darke will call the Brazil-Croatia opening match on June 12 in Sao Paulo, as well as the tournament final and all of the U.S. team's matches. THE DAILY also has learned that Derek Rae will do play-by-play from Brazil, though ESPN has not established a pecking order for the broadcast teams. Rae did play-by-play for several ESPN matches during the '10 World Cup in South Africa and serves as the lead announcer for BT Sport’s coverage of the Scottish Premier League. Meanwhile, ESPN yesterday also said that it has ended its relationship with Martin Tyler, who served as the net's lead English-language play-by-play commentator for the '10 World Cup. Tyler is now free to work with other media partners during this year's World Cup (THE DAILY).
UPPING THE ANTE: In London, Christopher Williams reports BT and BSkyB "may have to engage in a new multi-billion-pound battle for pay-TV supremacy as early as this year," because the EPL "wants to bring forward the next auction of football broadcasting rights by up to six months." The plan has "been aired by the Premier League in private meetings with broadcasters and has met some opposition." BSkyB and BT are "already paying record sums for rights." Sources said that the Premier League was "suspected of 'opportunism' in attempting to exploit the fierce competition between BSkyB and BT, and the resulting increase in the value of sports rights." The pair "paid more than" US$4.9B between them last time they bid in '12. The rights on the block will cover three EPL seasons, beginning with the '16-17 campaign. It is "understood" that the EPL has "informally suggested BSkyB and BT would be invited to bid as early as this December rather than after the end of the next football season" in June '15 (London TELEGRAPH, 1/9).