ESPN Announces Plans For World Cup 2010 TV Coverage


On the heels of successful coverage of the Confederations Cup, ESPN has announced more details regarding its coverage of the 2010 World Cup.

The 2010 World Cup kicks off in South Africa on June 11 and ends on July 11.

Here’s what we can expect:

  • ESPN will present all of its 2010 World Cup coverage from on-site in South Africa, totaling more than 65 hours of original content.
  • The studio hosts will be Bob Ley, Chris Fowler and Mike Tirico,
  • SportsCenter will feature World Cup segments,
  • There’ll be a nightly World Cup Live show (30 minutes) shown on ESPN or ESPN2
  • ESPN will have pre-match, halftime and post-match shows, shown on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

This is quite an impressive commitment from ESPN to present all of its coverage from South Africa rather than relying on coverage from a studio in Bristol, Connecticut. And this is the first time ESPN has, in its 30 year history, had all of its World Cup coverage coming from the on-site location of the tournament.

While Bob Ley is a familiar face for soccer fans who have followed the United States (and World Cups) on US TV since the 1980s, I wonder how the decisions of adding Chris Fowler (best known for his Grand Slam tennis and college football coverage) and Mike Tirico (best known for his coverage of Superbowls, NBA and major golf tournaments) will go over with most Americans.

I’m interested in getting your feedback on those appointments and the scope of ESPN’s coverage. Click the comments link below and share your opinion.

68 thoughts on “ESPN Announces Plans For World Cup 2010 TV Coverage”

  1. Hard to argue that ESPN isn’t bringing it’s “A” talent for the World Cup. Would be nice, though, to bring back Andy Gray to the booth for analysis. Gray was so insightful during Euro 2008.

    While I was a big fan of Harkes (the player), the man adds absolutely nothing as an analyst during game telecasts. I’m still waiting for Harkes to tell me something that I can’t surmise by watching the match.

    ESPN is smart. They saw the great lunchtime ratings for Germany ’06, Euro ’08, this year’s Champions League final, and the Confed Cup. Saw that yesterday’s US-BRA match earned a 2.4 rating. They’re riding the wave, and we’ll all benefit.

    1. What, you mean you don’t like being informed that ” Brazil really has to go forward now” when they fell behind 2-0. My favorite was when we were told that Clint Dempsey was ” caught in possession with the ball”. Kind of tricky to be caught in possession without the ball I think. Derrick Rae and Andy Gray would make a great team I think.

  2. i have to agree, i would like to see andy gray back in the booth. he did a sensational job during the euro 08.

  3. Bob Ley is the man. Good Choice. Fowler is excellent on College Gameday and Tennis, another good choice. But Tirico? ESPN seem to be trying to make Tirico into their signature star but I’m just not feeling it. Never liked him.
    Josh Elliot is pretty good, and he’s a big soccer fan. Why not have him in there instead of Tirico? And I thought Rece Davis was excellent during the Confed Cup. He has every right to be very disappointed.

  4. IF Andy Gray is good enough for EA Sports FIFA 09, then surely he would do well at the 2010 World Cup! Im sorry but, why on earth would they put an American Football annoucer on TV for WC. What kind of insite could they possibly add to the coverage?? They just don’t know what they are talking about, totally inept and lacking of any knowledge about ” The Buetifull Game.” The knowlegable pundits they used on the Champions League Coverage would be a much better choice or the guys they use on ESPN’s Soccernet Press Pass, like Derrick Rae.

    Don’t get me started on Jim Rome the most ignorant sportscaster on TV, totally synonymous with egocentric ‘American’ sportswriters. How and why does ESPN let him talk so badly about Football? Is ESPN trying to promote football/soccer? or not? You would think with espn accuiring the rights to the Premiere League, MLS and the World Cup, that they would tell that man shut up!

  5. Yeah I totally agree Matt, Fowler and Tirico won’t get in the way, and are adept at getting everyone involved in the conversation, hopefully everyone includes Andy Gray and not Tommy Smyth.

  6. Nothing could be worse than the “talent” ESPN used in 2006 (and most have since been replaced). It’s really only uphill from there. Hopefully they will add more sport-specific commentators… but please, not Alexi Lalas. The man ran two MLS clubs into the ground and, at the best of times, only adds marginal or obviuos comments.

  7. Yeah I understand They are probably very good announcers but wouldn’t it be better to have both knowledge and good TV skills? I guess ESPN has to go with an American Announcer, (without a foreign accent) to bring in the casual fans. But, then I think we are a nation of immigrants, unless you are a native american we are all immigrants. Also, in a Global marketplace; why not invite a full-time football/soccer announcer? which would have to be a foriegner b/c, the US doesn’t do primetime Soccer on the major networks. I must say though, the Analysts on Fox Soccer Channel are great.

  8. I’d like to see more of Shaka Hislop. He was incitful during ESPNs soccer pass show. He even bantered well with ole munchkin smyth. Hopefully they come out with an iPhone app lol

  9. Bob Ley is a LEGEND in US Sports. Beats me why he hastn’ been on soccer since the 98 WC I believe. I’m not sure about Tirico but Fowler is decent. These are ESPN “big guns” in terms of studio hosts and it should turn out to be a much better product.

  10. Fowler and Tirico are good with their research, so I think they will be able to hold their own assuming ESPN is going to use them as the “moderator” so to speak.

    I agree with the others that they need to bring in Andy Gray, Hislop, Derek Rae…or, even as much as he annoys me, Tommy Smyth. Simply put, they need a world (or most of the world) recognized soccer mind that can provide decent analysis. They need to stay away from Harkes and Lalas.

  11. The main thing that annoys me about Tommy Smyth is the fact that, like the vast majority of American announcers in any sport, he just talks too damn much.

  12. Wouldn’t Andy Gray be working the WC for Sky? Just a thought. It’d be a shame for us not to get him though.

    And I feel bad for Rece Davis. Thought he handled Euro ’08 and Confed ’09 well. Ley’s cool – the others I can take or leave.

  13. I think the list of studio announcers are good and shows ESPNs commitment to soccer. I am sure their recent acquisition of EPL games for their UK network didn’t hurt in making the choice to have top talent involved. But I think their choice of play-by-play and game analyst will really show their commitment to quality. Dave O’Brien was painful from Germany—he is a baseball announcer. Hopefully, they will utilize the new staff of EPL announcers they will soon be lining up. The World Cup with American announcers just doesn’t seem right to me.

  14. Who cares who the studio hosts are? The people that make-or-break the coverage are the studio analysts, play-by-play men, and game analysts.

    Under Andy Grey’s contract with Sky Sports, he will be doing on-site studio analysis for them during the World Cup Finals. Fox Soccer Channel aired a lot of that during 2006 via Sky Sports News airings.

    ESPN also went after Martin Tyler very hard for Euro 2008. He decided to do the games for Fox in Australia instead. However, they may make a push for him for the fourth broadcast team, as I think both the play-by-play and analyst roles on that team will be hired guns.

    Broadcast teams 1-3 will likely be the guys they have under contract: Dellacamera-Harkes, Rae-Smyth, Healey-Mustoe… and Lalas will probably have a role as one of the on-site studio analysts.

  15. Though I generally dislike the power that ESPN has in terms of sports coverage in the United States (they can outbid anyone for the rights to any league), and their Fox News/Soap Opera approach to sports casting, I think ESPN is a GOOD thing for Soccer in the US.

    ESPN has the power to shape a large portion of the US’s perception on sports. They can portray and athlete anyway they want, and generally build that persons character.

    If anyone is going to bring soccer further into the US mainstream, ESPN will be the network to do it. If they want Americans to believe that soccer is “cool”, they will make it happen.

    Good to see they are taking this seriously. And I must admit, their Euro and WC ’06 coverage was pretty good.

    1. You might be right about the packages, the side stories, and player/team profiles before and after the game. But leave the game commentary to the professionals… and no, there aren’t any here in the U.S. you’ve got to bring em in from England, sorry, the Yanks are crap.

  16. I don’t think Tirico or Fowler will take away from the coverage. I expect them in the host type role that Brent Musburger filled last World Cup when the games were on ABC and a couple of the ESPN games. I am glad that Ley is back in the fold. I do hope they bring in an analyst or two from Europe to help the coverage and bring in a foreign voice or two along with whatever former USMNT players that will get gigs like Lalas and Harkes. I think we all can agree that we are glad to see no mention of Julie Foudey. She was a great player for the USWNT but as a pundit I and I am sure most of you will pass.

    Wish Mus was brought back for 1 of the ABC games just so he can say, “You are looking live in Johannesburg South Africa at the 2010 World Cup Finals.” Not many lines get me as pumped up for a game or match than Mus dropping the You are looking live line………………………….

  17. One thing you can count on from ESPN: If they are broadcasting a sport, they will help sell that sport. They used to provide excellent analysis of NFL, MLB, etc., until they started acquiring broadcast rights to those sports. Now they’ve given up on objective analysis for being marketing shills.

    The problem with that is you’re going to be bringing a bunch of “soccer” neophytes (U.S. fans) a terribly skewed representation of the sport. I suppose it’s good in the long run, but get ready to listen to a lot of poorly informed Yanks talking gibberish about “football.”

    I don’t think it matters what talent they have, either for play-by-play or analysis. The behemoth will demand positive spin and breathless adoration, and the talent will provide just that or be out on their asses.

  18. These guys are all high-quality pros, but yeah — I feel bad for Rece Davis. He was top notch with both Euro 2008 and the Confed Cup, and it seems he’s gotten more and more emotionally invested in the sport over time.

    Maybe he’ll still have a role in 2010 of some kind. If not, I hope he’s destined for some World Cups in years ahead.

  19. I will also agree that I would like to see a Derek Rae and Andy Gray team.
    Things to keep in mind, John Harkes’ job is to connect it to the average person be the simple man. With an American audience you want to keep it simple for people just tuning in.
    As far as incite goes…
    Football/soccer is a relatively simple game that we have made complicated. There isn’t much that people can be insightful about.
    Any American football fan can tell you that there is a lot more strategy and behind the scenes break down and analysis to be had. Mostly because film study is such a big part of the sport and things like gap distance/timing/blocking schemes change every play. This combined with the fact that their is a lot of stopping between each play a great analyst will offer strategic breakdowns literally every play.
    John Madden did the same job of making things fans know obvious to non-fans. Harkes or Rece do that for nonfanwatchers, a population much higher during the world cup in America.

    1. How much longer are we going to do the whole “Cater to the average person” schtick? There are plenty sports-viewing Americans today that understand the game well enough. It’s going to increase here and in other “non-soccer nations” like Canada.

      That’s like dumbing down 5th Grade Math for the entire class because little Timmy and Stewie can’t grasp their multiplication tables.

  20. Bob Ley and Chris Fowler get the thumbs up from me, but Tirico I can do without.He’s more intuned with the NFL and NBA. However, Andy Gray may be available as SKY don’t cover the World Cup. That’s down to the BBC and ITV. It would be really great if ESPN are able to provide viewers with genuine pre and post match coverage. That means setting the scene before the games kick off. Sampling the atmosphere and getting interviews with players and managers. The same applies to post match too. Interviews with those involved.

    It’s going to be strange having a world cup played during the winter though. That’s got to be a first. South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, so when it’s summer in the northern hemisphere, it’s winter in south.

  21. My only wish is that Harkes and Dellacamera are far away from a microphone of any kind come next summer…unfortunately that wont be the case.

  22. This seems to be a replay of Dave O’Brien. Lord help us.

    Confederation Cup coverage was highly biased toward US team, and comments in some cases seemed inflamatory. Broadcaster should provide impartial coverage and the FACTS, not running biased commentary.

    Sadly, with the loss of Setanta coverage, the US will fall back into the dark ages of football coverage.

  23. I’m far less concerned with who will be in the studio as I am with who will calling the games. In terms of studio guys, I’ve always liked Alan Hopkins in terms of insight, but maybe they can get Claudio or McBride or someone like that to provide some color.

    By far my favorite game day guy is Martin Tyler – an absolute pleasure to listen to, but will be most certainly be working for BBC or Sky or whomever gets the UK broadcast. The WC is no time to experiment e.g. Dave OB in ’06 – get guys who regularly call matches vs recognizable voices who know very little about futbol.

  24. It would be nice to see some human interest coverage of the WC 2010 Security.
    The new “Mag Shoe” foot scanning device from IDO Security will provide enhanced security without the delay and contamination of everyone taking off their shoes. This will set a new standard for major sporting events around the world and probably save lives.
    The WC South African Security Minister should put this on the fast track right away.

  25. I am 65 and from the old school of broadcasting. I heard people in the days
    of radio, before TV call games with fewer words than most of these so called announcers. You see you are supposed to know your team well enough that by mentioning the player in posession fo the ball or a passing
    exchange you can close your eyes and vsiualize the action. I am not interested in bios or stupid second guessing of referee calls by people who
    do not understand the beautiful game. They need to shut up and let us watch and enjoy. The world cup is not a place to educate the masses who
    do not understand the game. save that for the MLS or college boradcasts.
    As for true soccer fans the visual is all we need. If we were lucky enough to be at the stadium live we would not have the “benefit” of the babblers,
    and gues what, we would know what is going on. OK – I said my peace on this subject.

  26. How much coverage will be in HD?
    Which Satellite, Dish or DirecTV, will have the most/best coverage?
    (I’m ready to subscribe…)

  27. Aslong as the sportscasters keep their egos aside and do not show themselves on TV and let us see the game , I am able to ignore their voices, but unfortunately , the sportscasters LOVE to show themselves. This is what they do in Tennis also . In football (the real one)every second of the game is important.

  28. Having lived and worked overseas most of my life, I am hooked on the world cup specifically. The more coverage the better. Please let me know how to access the schedules for all games available to Direct TV viewers in Atlanta (Powder Springs, Ga.) I will tape or watch ALL the on site games in all groups.
    Please help me to access the information. Don’t want to watch it through FOX on my computer. Don’t know much about our American Soccer broadcasters, but I am sure they will be up to snuff on the international players as well as our us soccer guys? Look forward to watching all the matches. Don’t let me down!

    Good work, I hope. And thanks. Corinne

  29. as long as that guy that does fox football phone in doesnt do the world cup pregame/halftime/postgame show then it will be ok. he hated on Italy the whole WC in 2006 and when they brought in an old man who had played for Italy baaaaaaaaack in the day he tried to punk him and say he was stupid for thinking Italy could win the WC that year. Well what happened? Italy won…CAMPIONI!!!

  30. ESPN: if your gonna show it, get the guy’s that know it…Football (Soccer) Isnt like Baketball,Baseball or American Football (to which I love those sports)!!!So why put guy’s that havnt grown up with the Game? Commentating on it. It’s an Insult as they’ll have to read about the players in the booth, where as Peaple that grew with it dont..Shame on you guy’s and Jim Rome isnt a good chice at all he’s a dickhead and Arragant…Please,please use Knowlagable guy’s of the Greatest sporting event in the World…..

  31. As much as I hate having professional announcers who know nothing about soccer, i can take it as long as they don’t don’t have some woman doing it again. Soccer is the only male sport in the US where they try to stick in women announcers. (Although i’ve seen them trying to do it with basketball now as well) Women’s world cup, just like the WNBA is a joke. you experiance is irrelevant. No one can touch Bobby Smith

  32. My hat off to ESPN for televising all matches and bringing the sport directly from South Africa. I can tell you that you do not need to be telling me what is happening on the field for me to follow the game. It is good and helpful to know stats and relevant information, that being said…would have been nice to get some better quality commentators for the worlds largest televised event.

  33. ESPN needs to have English announcers doing the Latin games and Spanish announcers doing the Anglo-Germanic games. This way there would be expert announcing and no real favoritism.

  34. Andy Gray, Andy Gray…all the way. He speaks with passion of the beautiful game. Give him the mic. for the World Cup.

  35. Thanks to ESPN STAR sports for Wrold cup Soccer matches but unfortunate NO Hindi Commantary this time i think it was great success
    we miss Hindi


    1. I will Thank God if there is no HIndi Commentary in India. I hate the hindi commentary. The people commentating in Hindi are absolutely non-emotional. They are like robots and take the gloss of the game.

      1. Dear Venkat u say thanks GOD u dont understand in India football belt
        want Hindi who ever be a commantatar Did u know about Novi Kapadia he is the best footbakll commantator in Asia he did in hindi for espn i am realy sorry Venket that this time u will be the happiest person on earth enjoy

  36. I Agree with Ranjan without hindi our intrest not much
    Hindi commantary is a soul of sports football in particuler

  37. Someday we will have a group of match commentators in America that can compare to the quality available in other countries. Currently, our best range from very poor to pretty good. If we can get the commentary from the best in the world we should. It will help to grow the game in the US. It is fine to give the American audience some familiar faces for pregame/post game and if they want to dumb things down at those times it is understandable (like how they have to explain most of the Winter Olympic sports to us). But don’t mess with the actual game coverage. As the game continues to progress in the U.S., we will eventually compete at a higher level on the field, in the booth, and, god help us, with the officiating. For now, let’s leave it to the experts when it comes to major international competition.

  38. Do we know what ESPN’s rebroadcast schedule if any is going to be? Will the matches at least be available for rebroadcast on ESPN3?

    1. I have it on good authority that the rebroadcast schedule will be announced in the next few days. But yes, will have the games available on demand (as well as live) – except the ABC telecasts which will be available via the next day.

      The Gaffer

  39. Off topic, but I have another suggestion. Maybe a thread that suggests posters (presumably only meaningful to those of us living in the states) submit both the venues from which they are going to watch matches as well as the venues that they know are going to broadcast at least a vast majority of the games. Peter Vecsey started a similar thread in the NY Times

    where he mentions that my uncle of STL United FC will be watching the England USA match with Harry Keough and Frank Borghi in St Louis, Missouri which could be a great experience for any American fan. That said, any promotion of bars that cater to soccer/football would be informative and maybe ultimately end up luring a few extra fans into our obsession (and maybe some residents of certain cities aren’t aware of venues that would tickle their football fancies? ). It might also craft an interesting debate on the merits of specific venues in larger markets. Yes or no on the suggestion, thanks again for the wonderful site. I’m very appreciative for epltalk’s existence and consider it with the guardian, the times, the independent, and zonal marking must reads each day.

  40. This cup should be more interesting than the previous one, which was damn boring with Zidane’s punch and Brazil falling out, less goals and less action!

  41. There will be some A -list talents perfomring at the World Cup.R.Kelly and Shakira are two of the performers that will be performing at the game.

  42. I just feel American commentaters are useless they are far more interested in expressing their knowledge of the players and who did what to whom. Often missing vital moments of the game. Give me a good old fashioned English commentator who just reported on the game and what was happening ON the field NOT OFF it. And lets be honest Tommy the Smyth doesnt like England as is so biased he makes you sick I turn on TV to watch football, not listen to some smart cookie telling me how clever HE is.

  43. Let’s Roll USA! The time has come to galvanize and make history in 2010. Who dat sey dey gonna beat da USA im da World Cup 2010. USA United! Stars and Stripes !!!

  44. Thank god there is no Hindi commentary ! First and foremost the person who commentates in Hindi is very irritating because of their lack of understanding of the game. I always prefer the typical British commentators who are true professionals compared to the novices we have in Hindi which will be sounding like the cricket commentary we find in Doordarshan.

  45. Besides the original times, is ESPN showing repeats of the games again in the evenings?
    please let me know and what are the times.

  46. Sorry lads, I don’t think I ever heard one game where an American commentating on the game of “football” has made it even slightly interesting. I’d rather watch it in spanish even though I can’t understand what they are even saying. Bring in one of the English blokes that do the EPL commentary. You don’t need these wankers educating americans during the game, especially when they seem to get it wrong anyway.

  47. get rid of the “bee” sound from the stands. it is annoying and distracting. i find i have to mute and so cannot hear your comments.

  48. I am sure your commentators are very good if I could only hear them above the din of those irritating horns. Please do some type of filtering of that sound, I have watched the last 3 matches on mute,

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