So much of the discussion regarding ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been centered around what a magnificent job the network has done, but the fear of what’s going to happen after ESPN hands over the rights to FOX Sports, which effectively happens after the World Cup coverage ends on Sunday night.
From 2015 through 2022, FOX will broadcast all of the World Cup tournaments, Women’s World Cup as well as the Confederations Cups.
But during a FIFA World Cup Final conference call this week for reporters, ESPN Executive Producer Jed Drake reminded me that ESPN is not out of the business of broadcasting major soccer events quite yet. ESPN will broadcast Euro 2016 to viewers in the United States. The tournament will feature the best national teams from across Europe as they compete in France during the summer of 2016 to determine who will become the European Championship winner.
ESPN will broadcast every game of the Euro 2016 tournament live from June 10 to July 10, 2016. If ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups is anything to go by, we can expect another professionally produced Euro 2016. Plus, it’ll be a good way to keep FOX Sports on their toes as well as beIN SPORTS, who will be televising Copa America 2016 in English and Spanish.
I asked Drake to comment on what he believes ESPN’s legacy will be with its World Cup coverage:
“I think the big thing for me, and I suspect for all of us, is that we decided that we were not going to allow our country to be less than enthusiastic on a national basis about this event, and we set out to make that change after 2006, and for all of you that saw what we did in 2010 in South Africa, we said that we had finally changed the culture in the United States and helped the general population understand what the rest of the world knew, which is that this event is the biggest sporting event on the planet, and that it means so much to so many people around the world, billions of them.
“We did that in 2010, and what we said we were going to do here is that we were going to continue that and recognize some of the inherent things that came to play for us in our favor, like the time zone and this growing interest in the U.S. team.