World Cup Runneth Over to ESPN360

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The worldwide leader in sports believes its coverage of the world’s largest sporting event will provide a carriage assist for its broadband service.

All 52 matches ESPN and ESPN2 will televise from the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, scheduled from June 9-July 9, will appear on its broadband ESPN360 portal (broadband.espn.go.com).

Broadband subscribers will view the same feed video subscribers will see, including sponsor messages and logos affixed to score and game clocks, with commercials only running during pregame, postgame and halftime segments.

The 12 matches airing on broadcast cousin ABC aren’t part of the package.

While the cable industry counts 24 million broadband subscribers, ESPN360 is in only 8 million homes through connections delivered by Adelphia Communications Corp., Bend Broadband, Charter Communications Inc., Grande Communications Networks Inc., Mid-Hudson Cablevision Inc., Susquehanna Communications and Verizon Communications Inc., among others. Its roster, however, doesn’t count Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp.

ESPN hopes to change that with soccer, senior vice president of new media John Kosner said.

He added that the matches will have appeal to soccer fans at work who might not have access to the TV feeds. Most of the games will be in early morning and midday time slots in the United States, given its six- to nine-hour time differential with Germany.

ESPN360 broadband users will be able to directly link with ESPN.com (espn.go.com) and its SoccerNet section (soccernet.espn.go.com), where additional information and statistics will be available. “We’ll do interactive things to enhance the live coverage,” Kosner said.

ESPN360 will also likely carry longer versions of pregame and postgame press conferences than what would be available on television.

For more on ESPN360 and the World Cup, please see Matt Stump’s story on page 40 of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

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