8 Ways ESPN Excels in its Coverage of the Women's World Cup

brandi chastain ian darke 8 Ways ESPN Excels in its Coverage of the Women's World Cup

Brandi Chastain and Ian Darke

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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8 Responses to 8 Ways ESPN Excels in its Coverage of the Women's World Cup

  1. cy says:

    “Julie Foudy con­tin­ues to be the best ESPN American-born soc­cer com­men­ta­tor, male or female”

    Says more about everyone else then her.

  2. MrTuktoyaktuk says:

    Other than the point on Foudy, I concur. That’s not to say that I don’t like what she has done but it is a vast overstatement to say she’s the best American commentator. I do feel that her commentary has improved a lot since the WC2010 coverage.

    In any case, that’s a side point. The main point, that ESPN has gone all in on its WWC coverage, is spot on. Very important to see that ESPN’s exemplary coverage of WC2010 wasn’t a just a one time effort.

  3. meesh says:

    I completely concur with the Foudy point. Hands down, no contest. She also adds a solidly female positive analysis on women’s sports which is extremely rare today. Another exception to that rule might include Doris Burke, and it’s a breath of fresh air when you hear it.

  4. CaliAli says:

    Kate Markgraf has been a wonderful addition to the ESPN team, and I prefer her commentary over Foudy’s. On a FAR lesser note, I am thankful ESPN is allowing it’s female commentators to dress like women. Remember poor Brandi covering the Olympics in an illfitting sports polo shirt? My only beef with ESPN is their lack of attention to the full bench of subs for USA. Not a word yet for Barnhart, who led the team thru qualifying for WWC when Solo was having surgery. These women work just as hard and should be recognized properly. Due to three player substitution limit, it is unlikely Barnhart will get in the field even though she was instrumental in getting them all there. Too much Solo love for the press?

    • random says:

      I completely agree with you about Markgraf. I think she is the best commentator as far as content, the only fault I have on her is somehow even though you know she is speaking on the fly it always sounds very rehearsed.

  5. Jose says:

    Its been an entertaining event so far. Very enjoyable to watch.

    There were two great games today. I was disappointed that England lost in the penalty shoot-outto France, but it was great to see Japan defeat Germany, who were the favorites to win the World Cup, in extra time.

  6. chris says:

    Agree with your assessment of Foudy! She should become the commentator for the USMNT games.

  7. eplnfl says:

    Yes ESPN has been wonderful. American soccer fans had hoped for years that ESPN would turn their efforts to soccer coverage and they have with full force. World Cup or EPL or MLS ESPN shows in it’s coverage why it’s the worldwide leader in sports coverage.

    Only one regret while I love the work of Ian Darke ESPN should have found a way to keep JP Dellacamera in the mix as one of the voices of American soccer.

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