Circle June 12 on your calendar, because it will be the largest audience ever to watch a soccer game in the United States when the United States faces England in both team’s opening game of the World Cup in South Africa on ABC.
The draw of which three teams the United States plays in the first round (they also play Algeria and Slovenia) could not have gone any better for the team or Disney, as it gives the Americans a fantastic shot of getting out of the group stage and into the second round - which would mean uber TV ratings.
And if the way it handled the World Cup draw is any indication of how ESPN will handle the big event next summer, soccer fans are in good hands.
Bob Ley was simply fantastic orchestrating the Stateside telecast as anchor, and the network has an incredibly deep bench of analysts. And bringing in the legendary Martin Tyler as a play-by-play voice is a great move, just hearing his voice in the promos is a reminder for those who have long enjoyed his golden pipes, and should let soccer fans easily forget about ESPN’s Dave O’Brien blunder last time around.
Reporter Jeremy Schaap on site in South Africa stumbled out of the gate with naïve comments about how many journalists and celebs were there and actually compared it to the NFL draft, a comical blunder in underestimating the sheer size and scope of what he was about to witness. However, Schaap more than redeemed himself with solid interviews with the coaches of the U.S., England and Mexico, the three teams most top of mind for viewers in the United States.
Disney says it is putting its entire muscle behind next summer’s World Cup, and the early returns are promising.