The World Cup on English-language television has come a long way over the last quarter century As recently as the 1986 World Cup, less than half the games were available on English-language television. When the 2010 World Cup kicks off on June 11, ESPN2 will go all-soccer for 24 hours leading up to the South Africa-Mexico opener.
ESPN will have 300 people working on-site for its World Cup coverage -- more than the BBC plans to send -- and it will ship a “SportsCenter” set to Johannesburg so its signature news show can air from South Africa.
“We’ve sort of pulled out all stops to make sure people pay attention this year," said John Skipper, ESPN’s executive vice president of content, "because we’re convinced when they pay attention, they’re going to fall in love with this. This is important to our company around the world. We have the rights in Brazil. We have the rights in much of Asia. This matters to us on our ‘SportsCenters’ around the world. This is a global effort for our company. Within the United States, the amount of shoulder programming, promotional commitment we have to this is beyond any event we’ve done in the past.”