ESPN Predicting Higher Ratings For '14 World Cup, Aided By Nearby Time Zone
ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Jed Drake on Saturday said that internal ratings projections for the '14 FIFA World Cup are "up quite a bit" from the '10 tournament in South Africa, according to Michael O'Connell of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. A number of factors "work in ESPN's favor, but none are likely bigger than the timing of the games." Rio de Janeiro "will only be one hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone," which means primetime games will start at 6:00pm ET and 3:00pm PT. ESPN also has "a stronger U.S. team in its corner this time around -- and an increased awareness for the most popular sport on the planet." U.S. World Cup ratings in '10 "jumped 41 percent" from the '06 World Cup in Germany. The final was "watched by 15.5 million viewers on ESPN sister network ABC and 8.8 million viewers on Univision" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/11).
MAKING THE PITCH: ESPN Films in April will premiere a series leading up to the World Cup called "30 for 30: Soccer Stories," including a mix of feature-length and 30-minute-long documentaries. The two feature-length films in the series are "Hillsborough," directed by Daniel Gordon and detailing the '89 disaster at an overcrowded stadium, and "White, Blue and White," directed by Camilo Antolini that focuses on Argentinian soccer player Ossie Ardiles' rise to prominence in England's top league. In addition, a collection of 10 vignettes about Brazilian culture will be featured throughout the net's World Cup programming (ESPN). The series "will air one doc per week, doubling up the half-hour ones for their premieres" (THEWRAP.com, 1/11). VARIETY's A.J. Marechal reported director Brett Ratner's entry in the series, titled "Mysteries of The Jules Rimet Trophy," has "a decided.ly historic edge." Ratner said, "One of my passions, and opportunities I’ve never gotten (to pursue) was to make a film with Nazis in them. All of my contemporaries like Tarantino and Spielberg have made their Nazi film, and I haven’t been able to tackle them. I heard about the Jules trophy ... that Hitler was obsessed with stealing. And, one man who worked with the Italian World Cup was able to hide the trophy from the Nazis. It was an incredible story" (VARIETY.com, 1/11).