World Cup: 5 ESPN Broadcast Innovations Fans Should Watch For
Soccer analyst Julie Foudy helped reveal details of the technological advancements that will enhance the fan experience from both the beach-side set and on digital platforms.
The tropical ESPN studio for the 2014 FIFA World Cup located on Copacabana beach looks rustic but it is anything but.
Soccer analyst and former captain of the U.S. women’s national team Julie Foudy revealed details of what fans can expect during the 290 hours of live coverage, which includes live broadcasts of 64 matches on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.
"In 2010 South Africa, we took the whole team down there in terms of analysts and groups instead of covering it from Bristol, Connecticut, so that really set a new standard," Foudy, who is covering her fourth World Cup, told The Hollywood Reporter.
This tournament the bar will be even higher. "I will be based in Rio de Janeiro at our set there, which has three levels and is on the end of the beach. It is right by the rescue station, so there could be helicopters coming in and out during our broadcasts!" she explained. "But the helipad is there too, which can help us get to different locations.
"We have a lot of technical advances and I don't even know the names of them all," she confessed, revealing detail on some of the advancements.
"That allows you to highlight players and draw on them," explained Foudy. "It is really cool and can bring in a lot of the social elements. You can do it right there rather than having a producer do it in an edit room."
2. Virtual greenscreen
With matches being played in 12 different stadiums around Brazil and additional broadcast teams back in the U.S., ESPN will be uniting them virtually onscreen. "We have a greenscreen to drop people in a three-dimensional way so they look like they are on set," explained Foudy, "It is phenomenal what you can do with it."
3. ESPN3 Surround
ESPN3 Surround coverage is a new advancement since the 2010 World Cup that offers enhanced viewing experiences for fans, such as delivering two alternate camera feeds to every telecast; tactical cams providing a high and wide view of the pitch to give viewers an in-stadium perspective; and real-time highlight reels that will update as big moments happen during every match.
4. Multiplatform coverage
With the World Cup predicted to be record-breaking in terms of social media, the network launched the ESPN FC app as its tentpole global digital product for score updates, goal highlights, news, tables of current standings and access to ESPN FC studio coverage and commentary video.
5. Soccer streaming
With many of the action going on during weekdays, a lot of fans will be watching away from their home TVs. Fortunately, all 64 matches during the tournament will be streamed live on WatchESPN and ESPN3, and available online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones or tablets on the WatchESPN app, or streamed on TV through ESPN on Xbox Live, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV via Internet providers.
See below for a breakdown "by the numbers" of ESPN's coverage as the tournament kicks off on Thursday at 3.30 p.m. ET/12.30 p.m. PT with Brazil vs. Croatia.
For ESPN Domestic Production
2… host sets at Clube dos Marimbas in Rio used by ESPN and ESPN International.
25… cameras at host set location.
300… (approximately) ESPN (U.S. and international) production staff members in Brazil.
2,200… miles of fiber cable ESPN is using to move content across different locations including between Brazil and the U.S.
For ESPN Brasil Production
4… number of studios across three cities in Brazil – two in Sao Paulo, one each in Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza.