ESPN Radio To Air World Cup Games
Details are unclear, including how many games will be made available. The move is curious, given Americans' already limited hunger for televised soccer, although the World Cup grows in popularity every four years.
ESPN carries World Cup games on TV sans commercials during the action, and the same is likely on the radio. Advertisers would be expected to get multiple audio mentions.
The announcers for the radio games may not be on-site in South Africa next summer, but in a studio in ESPN's Bristol, Conn. campus. That is often the case for international matches carried on ESPN TV, a cost-saving measure.
ESPN declined comment.
If ESPN were to gauge interest in World Cup games on radio, next year would seem to be an apt one. The company has promised its heaviest promotional push ever behind any single event for its Cup coverage, which includes games on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and ESPN360.com.
ESPN Radio has hundreds of affiliates around the country that carry its NBA and Major League Baseball feeds. How many can be persuaded to air soccer games, especially in small markets, is an open question. ESPN also has five owned-and-operated stations, including in the country's top-three markets.
Soccer has a significant following on Spanish-language radio in the U.S. -- including ESPN Deportes Radio -- but is not as widely available in the general market. For example, games of the Major League Soccer team in New York are carried on a Spanish-language station, but none are available on an English-speaking outlet.
However, MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy games, which include star player David Beckham, are available in English. And excitement is so high in Seattle about the new MLS team that all home and away games will be carried this season.
Sirius XM offers European competition coverage, such as the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.