If ESPN’s production of the World Cup qualifying match between the U.S. and Mexico seemed a bit grandiose, that was because it was. With the U.S. playing its biggest rival on U.S. soil, ESPN chose to use this match as a dress rehearsal for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
The broadcast included 2.5 hours of pre-match programming spread out over both ESPN and ESPN2. Bill Hofheimer of ESPN called the production “a glimpse of what to expect” in Brazil, and added that it will be a “huge initiative.”
Huge might be an understatement. Among the crew and equipment in Columbus, ESPN had:
- 17 on-air commentators, including 11 for the English-language broadcast and six for ESPN Deportes.
- In total, ESPN had 220 staff and crew members at the game
- The production utilized 32 cameras and a blimp.
- ESPN also used 44 microphones, including 26 microphones used to capture sound from the field.
- The crew used seven mobile units, including two office trailers.
In addition to the pre-match programming on ESPN and ESPN2, there was also a 2-hour pre-match show on ESPN Deportes and post-match coverage on both ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
In all, the crew spent three days preparing for the broadcast of a two-hour match and the end product was something that felt more like a championship game than just one of many World Cup qualification matches.
This is all great news for soccer fans as it would appear that ESPN is going all-out for next summer’s World Cup.
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