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ESPN Serves Up Expansive Digital World Cup Play

New York -- If you want the 2014 FIFA World Cup from Brazil, ESPN will have it – on every platform.

In addition to showing all 64 matches linearly live on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes (Portuguese) and ABC, the worldwide leader will dedicate a full month of round-the-clock analysis, commentary and interactivity on WatchESPN and ESPN3 via computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and connected-TV devices in the U.S. All 10 of the ABC World Cup telecasts also will stream live on WatchABC in the attendant station markets. Globally, ESPN’s multi-language, multiplatform soccer brand, ESPN FC will serve as the conduit to the globe's most popular sporting event.

The sports programming giant will also launch a redesigned version of its ESPN FC website and kick off a new free ESPN FC app with news, scores, highlights and commentary before the action begins in San Paulo with the host nation engaging Croatia on June 12.

“We put more resources toward this, from a digital perspective, than we’ve ever put against almost any single event,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president, managing director of ESPN International, during the company’s World Cup presentation at the Paley Center here on May 2.

The prospects for enhanced digital play are quite high. Senior director of marketing Seth Ader said that since ESPN covered the 2010 World Cup in South Africa the number of smartphones in this nation has jumped from 67 million to some 160 million today, while there are now 119 tablets, versus just 13 million four years ago. Noting the weekday-heavy match schedule, Ader “expects workplace productivity to plummet” during the World Cup 2014, save for one group: tech support, which figures to be quite busy.

Fans will also be able to check out more watching options on ESPN3 Surround, the companion-viewing experiences for all 64 telecasts in multiple languages, including Portuguese and Korean. The ESPN3 Surround coverage serves up two alternate camera feeds for every telecast, plus tactical cams that afford high and wide vistas of the pitch. There are also real-time highlight reels that will update as big moments happen during the live matches.

Before the Cup begins, fans can acquaint themselves with ESPN3 Surround, as the platform presents tactical-cam and fan-cam feeds for a trio of U.S. men’s national team warm-up friendlies against Azerbaijan on May 27 at 10 p.m. (ET); Turkey on June 1 at 2 p.m.; and Nigeria on June 7 at 6 p.m.

As for the new ESPN FC app, it is expected to bow shortly, sporting specific features around the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  The new ESPN FC app – which is being developed for iOS and Android smartphones in both English and Spanish – will mirror users’ experience of the broader SportsCenter app, now in its fourth iteration, with a host of soccer-specific components.

It will feature a dedicated FIFA World Cup section that will become the default launch page, beginning later this month, providing easy and immediate access to all related content before, during and after FIFA’s famed tournament. In the States, the video-centric app will debut in-progress clips for the World Cup, whereby goal highlights will be marked on a timeline for each match in real-time. Additionally, all fans worldwide will have access to ESPN FC studio coverage and commentary video.

Following the World Cup, the new app will focus on European leagues, Liga MX and MLS, plus coverage of all major leagues and tournaments.  Enhanced video features include the most recent match-specific highlights and ESPN FC studio programming clips contextually integrated and delivered to fans within match detail pages.  

Navigation is designed around four content pillars: Scores: live scores from favorite tournaments, leagues, clubs and teams and the day’s best matches, while also allowing fans to set alerts and access expanded information for each match with a simple tap; News: curated by ESPN FC, with the best and latest headlines and mix of breaking news, features, video and highlight clips; Now, which will integrate contextual live scoring and social updates for select tournaments, leagues, clubs and teams from ESPN FC Twitter handles, enabling fans to reply, retweet, favorite, share, and email each post; and Tables, which will give users easy and immediate access to which sides sit atop and at the bottom of groups and leagues.