Starting Saturday, ESPN will saturate coverage of the UEFA Euro 2008 soccer tournament across its multimedia platforms, showing all 31 matches live and in high definition.
The tournament, which runs through Sunday, June 29, pits national teams from 16 European countries in matches played in host nations of Austria and Switzerland. The ESPN presentation will be the most extensive the tournament has ever had in the United States.
As ESPN notes, 10 of the 16 teams in the quadrennial tourney rank among the top 15 teams in the FIFA World Rankings. Fourteen of the 16 teams earned a spot in the finals following a two-year qualification process among 50 UEFA member nations while Austria and Switzerland received automatic berths.
Greece, in a stunning upset as a pre-tournament 150-1 longshot, won the last championship, in 2004, hosted by Portugal. This time around, Germany, Italy, Spain and France are considered to be early favorites.
Euro 2008 content will be available on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPN’s Latin American and Caribbean networks, SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, ESPN.com, ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and ESPNDeportes.com.
ESPN Deportes will be the exclusive Spanish language home of the quadrennial tournament in this country.
The first matches, on Saturday, feature the four teams in Group A. At noon ET, Switzerland will face the Czech Republic and at 2:45 p.m., Portugal (featuring Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, pictured) will play Turkey with both matches being shown on ESPN Classic.
On Sunday and Monday, the action shifts to ESPN2.
At noon Sunday, Austria plays Croatia and at 2:45 p.m., Germany plays Poland, those teams comprising half of Group B.
Monday’s action features the four teams from Group C, the so-called “Group of Death.” Romania squares off against France at noon and Netherlands plays Italy at 2:45 p.m.
Group D teams square off for the first time on Tuesday, on ESPN2. Spain plays Russia at noon and Greece plays Sweden at 2:45 p.m.
A full match schedule is available here.
ABC will broadcast two matches: a quarterfinal contest Saturday, June 21, and the Euro 2008 title match Sunday, June 29, at 2:30 p.m. from Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna.
ESPN2, ESPN and ESPN Classic will combine to televise the remaining 29 matches live—17 on ESPN2, five on ESPN Classic, and seven on ESPN.
There will be live simulcasts online of 29 matches on ESPN’s broadband service ESPN360.com and live and delayed mobile streaming of all 31 matches via ESPN Mobile TV.
Shoulder programming will include Euro 2008 Today, a nightly, 30-minute news, highlights and analysis program at 7 p.m. on ESPN Classic.
ESPN’s match coverage also will feature Euro 2008 Studio Update before, amid and after games.
ESPN also will launch an ESPN HD Radio network on Saturday, to coincide with the start of the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament. It will make available sports content for the 1,714 stations broadcasting with HD Radio technology across the nation via an Internet/satellite-based delivery system. Live play-by-play of the Switzerland-Czech Republic match begins at 11 a.m. ET. The broadcasts will be available to any listener of an ESPN HD Radio FM affiliate who has an HD Radio receiver. HD Radio multicasting is new technology whereby stations can broadcast multiple programs in high quality in the same frequency.