ESPN Plans Massive World Cup Campaign, 'SportsNation' Coming

ESPN's executive vice president of content John Skipper is a known advocate for the network to expand soccer programming domestically. At ESPN's upfront event Tuesday, he said the company is planning its "biggest marketing campaign ever" to drive interest in next summer's World Cup.

All 64 games will be carried on ESPN from South Africa. While making the announcement of the coming marketing investment, Skipper mentioned the tagline "One Game Changes Everything" that ESPN used to plug the 2006 event, hinting it may return.

Word of ESPN's emphasis on the World Cup comes after it suffered a setback with soccer programming last month, losing North American rights to the UEFA Champions League, a tournament in which the best teams in Europe compete, to the lesser-distributed Fox Soccer Channel.

ESPN owns the rights to the World Cup through 2014 -- games are carried on Internet hub ESPN360.com and mobile platforms, as well as ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. No ads run during the game action, but sponsors receive on-air mention, as well as an opportunity to place a logo on-screen next to the score line.

Separately, it was announced that ESPN is launching a new daily program, "SportsNation," in July on ESPN2. ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd will be one host, with the show appearing to take some inspiration from sports-talk radio format. (ESPN does offer simulcasts of its radio shows on-air.)

ESPN's "SportsNation" Internet presence is also an inspiration for the live show, ESPN said. While viewers can call in, they can also send in commentary via email, texts and tweets.

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