Going into this FIFA Women’s World Cup year, those at ESPN who work to deliver content from one of the biggest sporting events in the world were tasked with planning how to serve fans in the best way possible for an event the company doesn’t have television rights for. espnW is leading the charge, with a collective effort from all branches of ESPN’s content division. Front Row caught up with espnW editor-in-chief Alison Overholt to discuss how they’re doing it.
What was espnW’s initial approach to covering the tournament?
espnW’s plan from Day 1 was to go big — we have Women’s World Cup fever! We’ve planned to truly be the digital home for the tournament, which is one of the premier international sporting events for women, featuring the kind of athleticism, grit and first-rate competition that thrills our audience. From features to films, preview packages to post-game analysis, statistical takes to social media conversation to gorgeously stylized photo galleries, espnW has embraced the Women’s World Cup on every level. Led by espnW, the company’s efforts have unified coverage from across ESPN FC, SportsCenter, ESPN The Magazine, FiveThirtyEight, ESPN Stats & Information, ESPN Films and more — fans can find all of that wall-to-wall coverage at one easy-to-access hub: espnW.com/WWC.
How was the approach in 2011 different than the strategy for this year?
As rights holders in 2011, we did have a certain level of access to broadcast opportunities, digital highlights, logos, branding and even players. We have to work around not having that access in this tournament. Despite that, our approach this year is, if anything, even more ambitious than it was four years ago — espnW has grown tremendously in the last four years, so our capacity to cover the event is on a different level.
What are some of the ways ESPN and espnW are covering the tournament?
Collectively, we’re offering the most comprehensive coverage of the Women’s World Cup you’ll find anywhere in the digital and social space. In the last few months, we previewed the tournament with breakdowns of every team in the tournament; offered longform profiles of American stars Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux and Hope Solo and global phenom Marta; and debuted an original short film series by the Mundo Sisters, What Makes Us, featuring the USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe and Leroux, and Spain’s Vero Boquete.
Throughout the Cup, we are teaming with our colleagues at ESPN FC to field an unmatched group of reporters and analysts, placing a reporter at every one of the 52 matches. This team provides original analysis, features and commentary that complement our daily on-air analysis within SportsCenter and ESPN FC led by espnW’s Julie Foudy, plus on-air commentary from USWNT stars Kristine Lilly and Kate Markgraf.
Paul Carr and Sharon Katz are leading original stats and analysis work for espnW during the tournament, and we are thrilled to also highlight the interactive Women’s World Cup predictive model from FiveThirtyEight, led by Jay Boice and Allison McCann.