8 Ways ESPN Excels in its Coverage of the Women's World Cup
ESPN has shown a remarkable commitment to properly covering the Women’s World Cup this year. While previous World Cups were well covered by the ESPN family of networks, this summer’s event has demonstrated an enhanced understanding of the audience that watches this competition and the type of coverage that would be appealing to those viewers.
If you aren’t convinced, here are eight examples of how ESPN is broadcasting the Women’s World Cup just right:
- HERoics are six short documentary films being regularly featured, which help build the story lines around the game. The films are meant to emulate ESPN’s already popular 30 for 30 documentary series. Some of them profile players such as Brazil’s Marta, England’s Kelly Smith and Austrailia’s Lisa De Vanna, while the others focus on some unique stories about women involved in the game in different ways. A woman also directed each HERoics documentary.
- ESPN built a mobile studio specifically for the Women’s World Cup. It is set up for pregame, halftime and post game coverage and will travel to six different cities throughout the tournament.
- For each game thus far, the network has had rotating guests from featured countries. While former US players Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain are involved in other parts of ESPN’s coverage, it is nice to see other players from other countries provided with the chance to provide insight to their former national team. We have heard from former Mexican national Team player Monica Gonzalez, Australian national team Alicia Ferguson, and Viola Oderbrecht from Germany’s 2003 World Cup champion squad.
- Bob Ley’s excellent melding of soccer with cultural and related references to women. Ley has done a superb job of promoting the cultural significance of female athletes in certain societies while continuing to emphasize the amazing growth of interest in women’s football in Germany.
- We have seen better placement of Women’s World Cup highlights in ESPNews and ESPN Sportscenter when compared to the 2003 and 2007 tournaments. Baseball is still the overwhelming topic this time of the year, but seeing an improvement from past tournaments is exciting for the women’s game and soccer as a whole.
- Ian Darke’s comfort with and knowledge of the women’s game has been impressive and has added credibility to the coverage. Darke, known mostly for his coverage of boxing and the Premier League, has helped raise the stature of ESPN’s coverage and demonstrated an incredible historical appreciation for the women’s game.
- Julie Foudy continues to be the best ESPN American-born soccer commentator, male or female. Her vast knowledge of the world game on both the female and male side makes her a must listen.
- Brandi Chastain and Rebecca Lowe have both added quality to the studio programs. Chastain’s analysis and understanding of every team in the tournament has allowed ESPN to build the profile of some below the radar countries. Lowe adds a presence and enthusiasm to the studio shows. A veteran of multiple British based networks, working in both men’s and women’s football, it is good to see Lowe on TV in the United States.