With the Olympic flame now extinguished in Sochi, Russia, the sporting world turns its attention to Brazil in anticipation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The world’s most popular sporting event is set for June 12–July 13 at 12 venues across the South American country. ESPN will present all 64 matches of the quadrennial tournament and today the entire television schedule — across three networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC) – was announced.
In the Q&A below, ESPN Senior Vice President for Programming and X Games Scott Guglielmino talks World Cup scheduling and corresponding programming with Front Row.
What are the challenges and opportunities of programming 64 matches in one month across ESPN’s linear TV networks?
The FIFA World Cup is the perfect property for ESPN to deliver on its mission to “serve sports fans wherever and whenever.” In 2010, our company set a new bar for marketing, documenting and providing a sense of place for the world’s most important sport on its largest stage. Our intention is to raise the bar yet again this summer.
The World Cup comes at the perfect time of year from a scheduling perspective. It shares the stage with other world class events such as the NBA Playoffs, X Games, US Open Golf and Wimbledon. All 64 FIFA World Cup matches will air live – 43 on ESPN, 11 on ESPN2 and 10 on ABC. Our program planning teams have done a terrific job piecing the scheduling puzzle together, taking advantage of lead-in opportunities to maximize audience across all networks.
What is different for 2014?:
During the tournament, Brazil will be one hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone so the kick times for group stage matches are noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. These match windows are later in the day compared to South Africa which should help us with audience levels. With 43 of the 64 matches on weekday afternoons, ESPN3, WatchESPN and WATCH ABC, are critical distribution services for fans not watching at home.
The collaboration between the ESPN Brazil and domestic teams has been outstanding. ESPN production teams – domestic and international – are pooling resources together for a robust and more efficient news gathering operation and content production effort.
ESPN Films has commissioned a 30 for 30 Soccer Stories series through a mix of feature-length and 30-minute documentaries by award-winning producers. These soccer stories and our studio presentation form the basis for more than 290 original hours of surround programming for Brazil 2014 on our services in the U.S.
What should fans expect from ESPN, Inc. during this World Cup?:
Beyond presenting all 64 matches live and in multiple languages, fans can expect to have an authentic, immersive experience throughout the tournament across ESPN media platforms. [Executive Producer] Jed Drake and his team have assembled a diverse group of commentators and pundits including former players, coaches and reporters to help document the month long storylines in context and insights from people who have been there before.
Our ESPN FC news and information media brand will also be a big part of the overall World Cup content offering by surrounding the 64 matches with non-stop reporting, team reporters and bloggers, video highlights and a place for fans to share their passion for the games.