ESPN, ABC Go HD with World Cup


The World Cup is going high-def.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup from Germany will be presented live and in HD in the States next June and July.

ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD and ABC HD will present all 64 matches from 12 German cities June 9-July 9. The HD telecasts will be offered as a simulcast of the aforementioned networks’ coverage of the globe’s largest sporting event. This will mark the first time that all 64 FIFA World Cup matches will be available in the format in the United States.

The Walt Disney Co. services will pick up the HD feed furnished by a minimum of 20 cameras from Host Broadcast Services AG, the host broadcast outlet for the upcoming quadrennial competition, as well as the 2002 event from Japan/South Korea. HBS is a subsidiary of Zug, Switzerland-based Infront Sports & Media AG, which holds the worldwide marketing and broadcast rights to the World Cup.

ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will also show the 2006 World Cup studio programs -- including the pre-, halftime and post-match segments -- in HD.

“The 2006 World Cup will offer a tremendous opportunity to bring fans closer to the action, the passion and pageantry during one of the greatest sports events through our high-definition service,” ESPN vice president of strategic business planning and development Bryan Burns said in a prepared statement. “Our combined coverage of Germany 2006 reaffirms our commitment to high-definition and to make our services a must-have for our fans and distributors.”

The networks acquired the U.S. TV rights to the 2006 World Cup from Soccer United Marketing as part of a deal that also encompasses coverage of Major League Soccer.