World Cup studio shows on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC

By Ryan Berenz

espn_worldcupESPN details its studio programming schedule for the World Cup, including a few technological elements in its production. From ESPN:

85 Hours of 2010 FIFA World Cup Studio Programming on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC

ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will combine to present more than 85 hours of studio programming during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa beginning Thursday, June 10.  World Cup Live, the daily news, highlights and analysis program, and World Cup PrimeTime, the new nightly program featuring condensed versions of the day’s matches, will anchor the schedule.  ESPN is covering its seventh FIFA World Cup, and for the first time in the company’s history all studio programs, including daily segments on SportsCenter, will originate from the host country.


ESPN’s state-of-the-art studio location at the International Broadcast Center (IBC) in Johannesburg will be the epicenter of its production efforts throughout the World Cup. The studio includes four distinct looks – an anchor desk overlooking Soccer City Stadium; a side set for interviews; a 16-foot by nine-foot LED wall for stand-ups; and an outside patio (with multiple vantage points). The studio measures approximately 40 feet by 40 feet. The base is 25 feet in the air. The primary ESPN control room, of which there are three, is equipped with 114 monitors and has three tiers. It is among the largest of all world broadcasters. The entire ESPN compound has enough workspace to accommodate more than 130 people. In all, ESPN has the second-largest footprint among all FIFA World Cup rights-holders at the IBC (second only to the space shared by German and Danish rights-holders)

2010 FIFA World Cup studio programming highlights:

World Cup Live presented by adidas
World Cup Live will air daily on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC throughout the tournament and will wrap up each day’s action with updated news and analysis.

World Cup PrimeTime presented by adidas
World Cup PrimeTime – which will air generally in a two-hour window each evening on ESPN or ESPN2, beginning Friday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m. ET – will offer the most definitive recap each day of the FIFA World Cup.  The program will provide a comprehensive wrap up with long-form highlights of all the day’s matches.  ESPN’s roster of analysts will provide their insights on what happened in each game, using a variety of technological tools, including ESPN Axis and the ESPN “eStrator.” PrimeTime will also offer post-match player and coach reactions from every game, and ESPN’s team-specific correspondents will provide reports from around South Africa.

In addition, PrimeTime will present a daily inside look at the country of South Africa and how it is faring as host of this unprecedented global sports event.  Included in this exploration will be the unveiling of ESPN’s 10-part series Umlando: Through the Eyes of My Father, as ESPN reporter Sal Masekela follows his father, noted South African musician Hugh Masekela, around the homeland from which Hugh was exiled for 30 years.

ESPN Technology
Beginning with the three-hour live 2010 FIFA World Cup Preview (Thursday, 10 a.m.), ESPN will bring back the popular ESPN Axis and debut three new production technologies – Center Circle, the soccer adaptation of EA Sports Virtual Playbook and ESPN “eStrator” – to further enhance its studio presentation throughout the tournament.

ESPN Axis
ESPN Axis is the critically acclaimed soccer production enhancement developed by the Swiss company LiberoVision with additional elements by ESPN’s production enhancement team that debuted during ESPN’s coverage of the UEFA European Football Championship in 2008. The innovative graphic enhanced replay devise will be utilized during FIFA World Cup studio segments in South Africa to give fans Xs and Os descriptions of key plays that occur during matches.

ESPN Axis creates “virtual” replays using video captured by cameras covering the live action event.  Images fed from the game cameras are calibrated and seamed together to create virtual freeze-frames from multiple angles. The angles of view may be tilted upwards by 90 degrees — from pitch level to direct overhead shots — creating three-dimensional, birds-eye views of key plays from multiple vantage points.

Within the three-dimensional frame, ESPN’s studio analysts will use graphic telestrations to highlight the locations and movements of players on the field to better explain how plays develop and what leads to scores, offsides and other key events during matches.  Analysts will also highlight players and graphically move them on the screen to demonstrate a play or series of plays in the match.

EA Sports Virtual Playbook
The Emmy Award-winning EA Sports Virtual Playbook – developed jointly by EA SPORTS Technology Licensing Group and ESPN’s Emerging Technology group – will be utilized during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  The technology merges the depth and realism of EA SPORTS industry-leading graphics with the award-winning production and analysis of ESPN.

In the soccer application, analyst Alexi Lalas will interact with virtual soccer players on a pitch to create the effect of “augmented reality.” A new feature of this devise, Lalas will diagram plays and deconstruct formations using an iPad. Before departing for South Africa, Lalas pre-recorded more than 15 Virtual Playbook segments at the Innovation Lab at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida to be used during World Cup studio programs. To view an example, click here.

Center Circle
Center Circle is a three-dimensional life-size virtual player card that will debut during ESPN’s studio coverage in South Africa.  In this upgraded version of player card technology that has been used in ESPN”s NBA and other sport coverage, soccer players’ full-size images will appear in front of ESPN’s 16×9 LED monitor fed with computer-generated images of a soccer field.  As the camera moves and pans across the studio, the image in the monitor and the virtual player track along. The production enhancement technology features a layer in between the field and the player that highlights player information such as professional career stats, club logo, etc.  Most players will be EA Sports-generated virtual players, with the exception of the U.S. National Team, which ESPN was able to shoot in front of a green screen in advance of the World Cup. To view one of the 80 Center Circle player cards that have been created, click here.

ESPN “eStrator”
ESPN “eStrator” is a telestration application designed for higher end quick turnaround telestrations over a frozen piece of video. It utilizes a small, portable touchscreen system that allows ESPN commentators to actually build a highlight sequence in real-time without the use of a traditional editing system.  The “eStrator” has remote functionality and allows the analyst to build a highlight utilizing animated graphics, spotlights and zoom features – even determining the order and pacing.

ESPN’s roster of studio commentators for the 2010 FIFA World Cup will include hosts Chris Fowler, Bob Ley and Mike Tirico , and analysts Shaun Bartlett, Ruud Gullit, Jürgen Klinsmann, Lalas, Steve McManaman and Roberto Martinez. Other elements:

ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC FIFA World Cup Studio Programming (subject to change):

Date    Time (ET)    Network    Program
Fri., June 11    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.    ESPN2    Word Cup PrimeTime
Sat., June 12    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ABC    World Cup Live
Sun., June 13    1 – 3 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
12 – 1 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
Mon., June 14    1:30 – 2 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup Live
2 – 4 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
10 p.m. – 12 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Tues., June 15    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
7 – 10 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Wed., June 16    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
7:30 – 10 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Thurs., June 17    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup Live
10 p.m. – 12 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Fri., June 18    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup Live
7 – 10 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Sat., June 19    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ABC    World Cup Live
9 p.m. – 12 a.m    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Sun., June 20    12 – 1 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
5 – 5:30 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
10 p.m. – 12 a.m.    ESPN2    Word Cup PrimeTime
Mon., June 21    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
7:30 – 9:30 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup PrimeTime
Tues., June 22    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
7 – 9 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup PrimeTime
Wed., June 23    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
10 p.m. – 1 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Thurs., June 24    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
10 p.m. – 12 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Fri., June 25    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
Sat., June 26    12:30 – 2:30 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
12 – 1 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
4:30 – 5 p.m.    ABC    World Cup Live
9 – 11 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Sun., June 27    12 – 1 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
10 p.m. – 12 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Mon., June 28    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
11 p.m. – 1 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Tues., June 29    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
11 p.m. – 1 a.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Thurs., July 1    8 – 10 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup PrimeTime Special
Fri., July 2    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Sat., July 3    12 – 1 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
4:30 – 5 p.m.    ABC    World Cup Live
8 – 10 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup PrimeTime
Mon., July 5    8 – 10 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime Special
Tues., July 6    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
8 – 10 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup PrimeTime
Wed., July 7    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
8 – 10 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Thurs., July 8    8 – 10 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup PrimeTime Special
Sat., July 10    4:30 – 5 p.m.    ABC    World Cup Live
7 – 10 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup PrimeTime
Sun., July 11    5 – 5:30 p.m.    ESPN    World Cup Live
9 – 11:30 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime
Mon., July 12    8 – 11 p.m.    ESPN2    World Cup PrimeTime Special

About Ryan Berenz 2127 Articles
Some things I like (in no particular order): Sports, Star Wars, LEGO, beer, 'The Simpsons' Seasons 1-13, my family and the few friends who are not embarrassed to be seen with me. Why yes, I am very interested in how much you like 'Alaskan Bush People.' #LynxForLife