ESPN president John Skipper is confident that his network’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be well-received by American viewers.
ESPN hold the rights to the FIFA tournament next summer and Skipper is genuinely excited about what is ahead for the satellite TV channel even though the 2014 World Cup is their last major showcase for the near foreseeable future.
Skipper was asked by Philly.com’s Jonathan Tannenwald just what the future holds for ESPN after the World Cup seeing as they do not hold the rights to any future tournaments as well as the English Premier League or UEFA Champions League.
“We're committed to soccer, [and] we're going to have to have a Plan B,” he said.
“The perfect plan in soccer is to own the World Cup, to own the domestic league, to have significant rights from leagues around the world. But we're going to have to adapt to there being a significant culture [of rights beyond ESPN's reach] and Fox winning the World Cup.
“We're excited about doing the World Cup in '14 - I think we're going to set a new high bar for how soccer is presented. And it's in Brazil, so it's in this time zone. It's going to be a high water mark, I believe.”
Skipper added of ESPN’s plans moving forward: “We continue to be interested in European soccer. We have the European Championship rights in '16, and we will certainly be trying to retain those rights in future years.
“That's a quadrennial event as well. We bought Mexican national team rights. We're going to look and see where we can be opportunistic. There's a lot of soccer content. We have MLS through '14. It would be our preference to retain a relationship with MLS.
“So there's a lot of soccer to go around, but there's a lot of competition, and we've seen the results of that. We've enjoyed a long relationship with the U.S. men's national team, the women's national team and MLS, and our clear preference would be to continue that relationship.”