The most covered World Cup ever?
That may seem a stretch, especially in North America where soccer takes a backseat to the big four sports (baseball, football, basketball, hockey) and a number of others. A number of key factors are making it possible.
Aside from growing interest in soccer in both Canada and the United States fuelling the demand, the proliferation of media and technology are working in tandem to provide sports fans unprecedented coverage of this year's World Cup in South Africa.
In Canada, CBC has exclusive broadcast rights and plans to provide coverage that will give Canadians more choice than before.
Multiple languages, vantage points
Besides airing all games live in high definition and in multiple languages on traditional television, CBC has devoted significant resources to its online platform. Each game will air live at CBCsports.ca with viewers having the benefit of experiencing the game from different vantage points.
"For the first time, Canadians will have access to four individual online feeds in addition to old-fashioned game coverage for every match," CBC executive producer Trevor Pilling told the Toronto Star. "They'll get a unique end zone camera angle and two isolated camera views of selected players each game."
South of the border, ESPN is preparing to kick off coverage unprecedented in the history of the network.
It may come as a surprise, but ESPN invested more financially into its coverage of the World Cup than any other event in its 30-year history.
The Bristol, Conn.-based network will provide wall-to-wall coverage with all 64 games airing live and in high definition. Matches will be split between ESPN, ABC and ESPN2, but will also air on ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile TV with replays on ESPN Classic.
In another initiative unique for soccer coverage in the U.S., ESPN2 will have a 24-hour all-soccer countdown before the South Africa-Mexico opener on June 11.
"The level of ambition we have for this project is second to none compared to anything we do at ESPN," senior vice-president and executive producer Jed Drake told The Associated Press.
Broadcasts in 3D
ESPN will harness advances in technology to bring 3D broadcasts of live matches to Americans for the fist time. A significant amount of money was invested into the 3D channel and the launch will coincide with the opening match.
Overall, the channel will air 25 of the tournament's matches featuring Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.S.
As well, ESPN3.com, the network's five-year-old broadband service, will stream every World Cup match live online.
"I understand it [World Cup] has not traditionally stopped work and stopped the country to watch it in past years. But we're going to treat it like it should," John Skipper, ESPN's executive vice-president/context, told AP back in January, on the network's handling of FIFA World Cup coverage.
Not to be outdone in the online department is American Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.
Not only will the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S. live stream all 64 games, but it will also debut a new soccer-focused site, UnivisionFutbol.com, along with accompanying mobile phone apps for the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android. The site will include statistics, blog posts, video and photos along with the live streams.
This is in addition to television broadcasts of all matches live and in HD and coverage of the event across its TeleFutura, Galavision, Univision.com, Univision Movil and Univision On Demand assets for a total of almost 900 hours of comprehensive coverage.
The network will also make available matches on demand for select subscribers.
With touch-line to touch-line coverage of the FIFA's flagship event on both sides of the border, soccer is poised to make inroads in North America that could see it get closer to the big four in popularity sooner than expected.