Stations Kick Off World Cup Coverage

The World Cup may not be quite big enough an event in the U.S. to merit budget-minded stations sending reporters to Brazil, but a handful of groups are doing just that. Not surprisingly, given the level of interest in the Cup among Hispanic viewers, both Univision and Telemundo have people from the station group down in Brazil.

After 16 hours of flight time, Alejandro Navarro, sports anchor of Telemundo's KVEA Los Angeles, is on the ground in Natal in advance of the Brazil-Croatia opener—and "having a blast," he says.

Navarro, with a producer and photographer in tow, is covering for all the Telemundo stations owned by Comcast/NBC and will be there until mid-July, visiting four cities. He's focused more on the scene—the parties, the characters, the community—than who beats who on the pitch, though Mexico vs. Cameroon June 13 is certainly of interest to him and Telemundo viewers.

"My objective is to cover whatever is going on around the World Cup," he says.

While he said he's heard some grumbling about the high costs of hosting amidst persistent poverty from locals, he's not yet witnessed the protests that organizers feared.

Navarro has met people who've saved up almost all their income for four years to attend the Cup, and will start saving soon as Brazil 2014 is over.

He met one diehard whose girlfriend of seven years didn't want to see his savings spent on a trip to Brazil. She gave him an ultimatum: her or the trip to Brazil.

"He's having the time of his life," says Navarro.

Among the English-language stations, most will cover the Cup from their own markets, which probably means stand-ups in rowdy pubs. WSVN Miami reports on the large number of tourists traveling through Miami en route to Brazil (as Alejandro Navarro did), and the party popping up in Miami:

Samba dancers, dressed in traditional apparel, could be seen dancing to the beat of their own drum as MIA kicked off their 31-day series of activities at the airport for the World Cup.

"The only two places that you would see this is at Rio or at Miami International Airport," said Director of Operations at MIA Ken Pyatt. "Because of our location, we are the gateway to Latin America, so we are the perfect city for people to connect, come through going to Brazil. We are, for the World Cup, the gateway to the World Cup."

Gannett, for one, is availing itself of some corporate resources by sharing USA Today's reportage with the stations. Its KING Seattle is capitalizing on one producer, Mark Feijo, who is Brazilian and is attending the World Cup on his own dime. The station will be getting social media and extra coverage from Feijo, says Ray Heacox, KING president/GM

Feijo shot this video, The Wonderful City, about Rio before the Cup.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.