ESPN Says It’s Ready To Go With World Cup, Brazil Not So Much; Improved Ratings A “Foregone Conclusion”

With one week to go before Brazil faces Croatia in the opening game of the 2014 soccer World Cup in Sao Paulo, ESPN SVP and executive producer Jed Drake says his team’s preparation has been going “exceptionally well” and that what ends up on air “is going to be tremendous and worthy of the event itself.” That said, the local “infrastructure is not what it should have been.” As expected, some of the stadiums “are not at the level of completion the country would have liked to have them at this point.” But, the infrastructure issues — which will present a “big challenge” to the crowds — won’t have an effect on the telecasts. “We’re going to be fine,” Drake said. But, he’s cautioned producers and commentators, “Time and patience are going to be your biggest allies. You’re going to need large measures of both.” Drake is confident the ratings will rise for the network’s coverage of the beautiful game, but is also prepared to cut away to news if protests “or anything that goes to a higher level” should unfold. With the country in a state of un-preparedness, a crime wave has broken out in Rio and threats of protests have been looming for more than a year over economic and planning problems related to the World Cup and impending Olympics. ABC News has a large contingent headed to Brazil and Drake says ESPN will “shift gears and go into news programming” if necessary.

Related: ESPN Striking Hard With Far-Reaching Soccer World Cup Coverage


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