There was a time in America, if only for a day, when women's soccer drew more television viewers than the NBA Finals, World Series and Stanley Cup finals.
The U.S.' victory over China in the 1999 Women's World Cup final --
But women's soccer never again came close to such viewing levels. The Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) failed to draw ratings (or attendance) before folding in 2003. The current Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league is a low-key property on the Fox Soccer Channel. The six-team league has one exclusive national game weekly, airing at 6 p.m. ET every Sunday.
The last Women's World Cup, which was held in China in 2007, drew a collective shrug from the American public. The games averaged an 0.4 rating and 394,000 viewers for 11 matches on ESPN, and an 0.2 rating and 232,000 viewers for 21 games on ESPN2. If you want a modern-day comparison, the
Can ESPN find an audience for this month's Women's World Cup in Germany? Well, it won't be for a lack of resources and promotion. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 (broadband) will air all 32 matches live and in high definition, including the final on July 17 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN). The network has studio programming on site, as well as prematch, halftime and postmatch shows. ESPN is using its premier game caller (Ian Darke) on U.S. games and the final, as well as a thoughtful studio host in Bob Ley, a noted soccer devotee. (Thankfully, ESPN opted to send Ley as opposed to Chris Berman, lest the audience be subjected to puns involving
ESPN is even utilizing a mobile studio (
While such programming is great for hardcore soccer fans -- and keeps ESPN in FIFA's good graces -- it provides no guarantee that the casual fan will tune in. How will ESPN evaluate whether its production is a success?
"There's always that twofold evaluation," said Jed Drake, the ESPN senior vice president and executive producer charged with running the World Cup coverage. "One is our intrinsic read on how we did as a production team. Then, inevitably in the end, more importantly will be our ratings. I do believe that the interest in the U.S. team is going to generate a lot of interest."
Regardless, one thing that ESPN must negotiate during the tournament is the line between commentary and advocacy. That's even trickier with a host of commentators -- Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Kate Markgraf, Briana Scurry, Cat Whitehill and Tony DiCicco -- who had major roles on the national team.
"That is something we discuss internally a lot," Foudy said. "The last thing we want to do is not be true to the game. My approach has always been to give as objective analysis of a game as I can. You have some allegiances to the United States team and you always will, but at the same time my job is to give perspective how people are playing, or maybe if they need to be better in certain areas."
The tournament is already proving a television hit in one country: Germany. The country's state network ARD
Dick Enberg announced earlier this month that this will
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas is one of the most popular college basketball
NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire has worked for
Harrington is correct. When high-profile voices in the media advocate players not speaking with the media, it sends a terrible message to fans. In the end, Luongo ended up speaking with the media, which is what a pro does in both good and bad times.
CNBC sports business reporter
I suppose you think a straight RT is a sign of respect because people are less likely to be left off and not given credit by someone after me if they are put at the end. I don't see it that way. As a conduit, my job is to pass on the information I filter in the best way to pass it on. If it can be clearer, more powerful and use fewer letters, I'd argue that my retweet, no matter where the credit goes, is more powerful and benefits the person I'm crediting. For what it's worth, I haven't had one person of the thousands I've credited in my tweets complain they were stiffed by where in the sentence I gave them credit. One last point, I'd argue a straight RT isn't why my followers follow me or why your followers follow your feed. They want your take. They want your stamp. I try to do that, while giving hat tips and "via"'s along the way.
I follow a lot of people who are brilliant with word construction so I can't honestly claim that a rewrite from me would always be better for my followers. Sure, my writer ego thinks that my words would be the most effective of all but I'm surprised you would say that it's an absolute given how many people you follow.
The Twitter RT is the modern-day answer to getting your letter to the editor published in the paper, and it was common practice to put the writer of that letter at the end. One more point since you have created this "respect" angle. Have you done any studies to find out whether people get more follows if they are given an RT at the beginning versus a via at the end? I'd suspect that the number of followers picked up from getting retweeted in any order of letters has to do with the total distribution and how good of a Tweeter you are when people click on you to consider. I'd guess it has less to do with where in the sentence you are given the credit. That's why I think the idea that how I credit counts less doesn't hold water.
Let me add one an example to give people a better understanding of why I do what I do. This morning, I saw a