[TV WATCH] ESPN2 will offer an unprecedented 24-hour block of World Cup countdown coverage, starting at 10 am ET on June 10 and running right up to kickoff of the opening match, between Mexico and South Africa June 11 on ESPN. The programming includes a U.S. national team preview, player profiles and human interest pieces.
Highlights include the Kick-off Celebration Concert, which features prominent artists Black Eyed Peas, Shakira and John Legend, as well as other acts. A poignant episode of "Outside the Lines" focuses on the soccer league of South Africa’s notorious Robben Island, where political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, were held captive during apartheid.
Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey will be profiled. Early morning coverage includes a documentary on the last World Cup, "The Grand Finale," narrated by actor Pierce Brosnan.
Although it's far too early to pass judgment on the quality of ESPN’s coverage, it appears to be setting a new benchmark for dedicated American programming of the world’s most popular sporting event.
ESPN2 24-HOUR COUNTDOWN SCHEDULE (ET)
Thursday, June 10
10 am 2010 FIFA World Cup Preview
1 pm 2010 U.S. National Team Preview
2 pm 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-off Celebration Concert
5 pm SportsNation Presented by Toyota
6 pm Outside the Lines: Robben Island – A Greater Goal
6:30 pm E:60 (with in-depth profile of Clint Dempsey)
7 pm Re-air 2010 FIFA World Cup Preview
10 pm MLS Game of the Week (Seattle-DC United)
Friday, June 11
12:30 am Re-air SportsNation Presented by Toyota
1:30 am Re-air 2010 U.S. National Team Preview
2:30 am Homecoming with Rick Reilly: Landon Donovan
3:30 am The 2006 World Cup Film – The Grand Finale
6–9:30 am Mike and Mike in the Morning Presented by Progressive Insurance
9:30–10 am SportsCenter
South Africa vs. Mexico airs on ESPN at 10 am.