ESPNFC to serve as brand for network’s global soccer coverage
Coinciding with the opening of the 2012-13 English Premier League season and qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, ESPN is stepping up its commitment to global soccer coverage.
The U.S. television debut of “ESPNFC Press Pass,” a news-and-views show broadcast the last 10 years only on ESPN International and on the Web, is slated for Thursday at 2 a.m. ET on ESPNews. The show subsequently will run 30 minutes on weekdays, 60 minutes on Sundays, and be dark on Saturdays. “Press Pass” joins programs like “Fantasy Football Now” and “MMA Live” as examples of ESPN
|The rebranding comes as the EPL season and 2014 World Cup qualifying begin.
The network’s first EPL match this season is between Arsenal and Sunderland on Saturday at 9:30 am ET. It will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes.
ESPN’s altered soccer strategy is on the heels of record numbers during
Euro 2012. During the monthlong tournament this summer, a soft launch of ESPNFC.com and ESPNsoccernet.com logged an average of 919,000 unique visitors per day, up 35 percent from Euro 2008. The ESPNsoccernet app for iPhone and Android generated 33.6 million total page views. The final match between Spain and Italy on July 1 delivered the highest-rated telecast ever on ESPN Deportes: a 12.9 Hispanic household coverage rating and 1.125 million viewers.
The rise in popularity of the EPL in the United States is also a touchstone.
“Soccer has become much more of a global game in the U.S. the last few years,” said Steve Palese, coordinating producer for soccer at ESPN. “After the success of Euro and the Premier League, we plan to continue to grow the audience with ESPNFC.”