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Thursday, January 28, 2010
World Cup plans unveiled at ESPN

ESPN.com news services

ESPN unveiled its television schedule for the 2010 World Cup on Wednesday -- a schedule that includes all 64 matches at 10 stadiums throughout South Africa.

The schedule includes 10 matches on ABC, 10 on ESPN2 and the remaining 44 on ESPN (in addition to coverage on ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile TV and nightly replays on ESPN Classic. There will be 40 matches on ESPN Deportes -- with announcers in Portuguese.

And in a change from the 2006 event in Germany, crews will be on site for all 64 matches. In 2006, two crews called matches from studios in the U.S.

"At some point you've got to treat it like the significant sporting event that it is," John Skipper, ESPN's executive vice president of content, told The Associated Press. "I understand it 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."

The announcement said that ESPN2 will go all soccer for a 24-hour countdown before the opener. The pre-World Cup concert will be televised live on ESPN on June 10, with an edited version replayed on ABC the following night. ESPN plans about 250 hours of original programming around the games.

Jed Drake, an ESPN vice president who is executive producer of its World Cup coverage, said the network is sending 165 people to South Africa and will have 50 local hires -- double the staff it used four years ago. The network will be broadcasting soccer 12 hours a day during the first round.

"The level of ambition we have for this project is second to none compared to anything we do at ESPN," he said.

A look at the complete schedule:

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.