World Cup events from 2007-2014 will have the same television partners in the United States that been covering the recent quadrennial events.
The difference, though, is that ABC Sports/ESPN and Univision Communications Inc. will be paying a lot more for the rights to air soccer's -- and, arguably, the globe's -- biggest sports competitions.
Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the sport's governing body, said the aforementioned parties will pay a combined $425 million for the rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, as well as the women's tournaments in 2007 and 2011, plus 11 other competitions and events.
In announcing what it described as a record deal for a single country's rights pacts, FIFA told AP Univision had ponied up $325 million, almost double its $175 million outlay for its package from 2002-06, and ABC/ESPN had paid $100 million.
ESPN/ABC's current World Cup rights, which expire with the 2006 competition from Germany, did not require a cash outlay. The networks obtained those rights from Soccer United Marketing, which also represented Major League Soccer, in exchange for the domestic league gaining carriage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.
Responding to questions during a conference call announcing the ESPN/ABC deal, ESPN executive vice president of content John Skipper said the networks have interest in continuing to televise MLS and U.S. national team games.
In addition to World Cup match coverage, the parties will run substantial promotion in the U.S. for FIFA events over the life of the contracts.
The agreement covers a wide range of media categories, including Internet, broadband and mobile telephony. ESPN will also be able to offer truncated versions of the matches on-demand, according to terms of the deal.