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Volume 10 No. 22
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ESPN Prepares To Tell 'Full Story' Of Brazil World Cup, Will Spotlight Mexico, Brazil

ESPN's World Cup Coverage
By The Numbers

  • 2 – host sets at Clube dos Marimbas used by ESPN and ESPN International.
  • 15 – World Cup rosters for English-language TV pundits.
  • 25 – cameras at host set location.
  • 29 – English-language on-air commentators (hosts, match commentators, analysts, reporters).
  • 43 – World Cup matches collectively played by ESPN’s English-language pundits.
  • 64 – matches across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.
  • 80 – Spanish-language on-air commentators covering the World Cup for ESPN Deportes, and ESPN Int'l networks in Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, etc., across TV and audio platforms.
  • 290 – original World Cup programming hours across ESPN’s English-language TV networks.
  • 300 – approximate number of ESPN (U.S. and int'l) production personnel in country.
  • 9,500 – Estimated miles A1 commentator team (Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman and/or Steve McManaman) will travel during the group stage.
  • 12,200 – Length (in miles) of fiber cable ESPN is using to move content across different locations in and to Brazil and the U.S.
With 56 days left until the start of the World Cup in Brazil, ESPN says it's focused on telling the "full story of the tournament and all the teams." ESPN Senior VP/Programming Scott Guglielmino told SBD Global the company is ready to offer its most extensive coverage of the World Cup in its history, from a month-long lead up series around the U.S. men's national team to kicking off coverage on site with its set situated on Rio’s Copacabana Beach. “We obviously are covering the entire event. All 64 matches, all teams,” said Guglielmino. “There has been some great effort to make sure that we have the expertise on board, so we can tell the full story of the tournament and all the teams.” That will start with a six-episode behind-the-scenes series on the U.S. men's national team. The series, which will begin to air in May, will follow the team through critical stages in its preparation for the tournament. “[We want to] give [fans] some hooks to not only pull for the U.S. team but perhaps pull for specific players of the U.S. team and get to know them going into the tournament,” Guglielmino said. ESPN also plans to shine the spotlight on other countries. The Mexican and Brazilian national teams will also be a point of emphasis for the network. While those three nations will be on the forefront of ESPN’s World Cup coverage, its approach is delivering authenticity across the board. ESPN will dedicate a little more than 400 original programming hours across all networks to the World Cup. In addition to live game broadcasts including pre-, halftime and post-game coverage, ESPN FC, the network’s digital home for football, is going to be a centerpiece of the coverage. Guglielmino said, “Filled with highlights and blogs, we got a lot of people that are going to be in the country -- reporters, talent -- that will all be feeding into ESPN FC.” He added that the website and app will also serve as a social media hub during the month-long competition.

LONG TIME COMING: ESPN’s preparations for the 2014 World Cup started several years ago. The preparations, which were headed by Exec Senior VP & Exec Producer Jed Drake and his team, included extensive collaboration with colleagues from ESPN Brasil. Guglielmino said that the network’s Brazilian-based subsidiary has been a tremendous help in getting things done, including securing the set location on Rio’s Copacabana Beach. Compared to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, ESPN's coverage will be more extensive, especially in terms of hours it will produce. There will also be more original content. ESPN Films is producing football-related pieces that will air leading up to the World Cup. “Some of it club-based, some of it is national-team based,” Guglielmino said.

THE OTHER SIDE: While it has been more than 60 years since Brazil last hosted World Cup finals, the build-up of the event has caused both jubilation and chaos in the host nation. During last year’s Confederations Cup, social unrest and protests over stadium construction costs overshadowed on-field performances. Guglielmino, who referred to Brazil as the spiritual home of football, said that the Confederations Cup experience has helped the network prepare for whatever might happen this summer. “We are going down there to really chronicle the World Cup as it happens,” he said. “And we will obviously be ready to cover anything else that happens and to treat that appropriately for our audiences back here in the U.S.” In addition, ESPN will use programs such as Outside The Lines to cover off-field aspects and controversial issues surrounding the tournament.