By Colin Mann
In an affectionate nod to how English football’s showcase match used to be presented by terrestrial broadcasters the BBC and ITV, pay-TV operator ESPN is to bring fans the 2012 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool in 3D and commercial-free as part of a full day of live FA Cup programming from Wembley Stadium.
For many years, coverage of the world’s oldest domestic cup competition would begin early morning, with a range of often light-hearted preview programmes and celebrity supporter interviews prior to the 15.00 kick-off. In recent years, the match – which is one of the UK’s so-called sporting ‘Crown Jewels’ that cannot be shown exclusively on pay-TV – has formed part of a broadcasting contract covering knock-out rounds between the English Football Association and terrestrial broadcasters in conjunction with pay-TV platforms such as Sky and ESPN.
The current contract is shared between ITV and ESPN. ITV has received considerable criticism since winning the contract from the BBC and Sky with unfavourable scheduling of certain games and missing vital moments of play when accidentally running adverts during the game. This year’s match will kick off at 17.15 to accommodate broadcaster scheduling requirements, which has upset may traditionalists.
Beginning at 8am on Saturday 5th May, ESPN’s special FA Cup Final coverage will include:
• All Day: A host of dedicated programmes – including Breakfast at Wembley, and a specially commissioned FA Cup documentary, Kings For a Day – Football’s Giant Killers, plus special live editions of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and Talk of The Terrace.
• HD: ESPN HD will feature complete high-definition coverage of the entire day of FA Cup programming
• Commercial Free: ESPN will bring fans the FA Cup Final commercial-free, in association with Wonga, from 4.45pm through to the trophy presentation, giving viewers an uninterrupted countdown to the game, the celebrations afterwards, and a break-free half time with highlights and analysis
• 3D: Live on Sky 3D, Europe’s first dedicated 3D TV channel
Ross Hair, Managing Director, ESPN – Europe, Middle East and Africa, said ESPN was thrilled to be continuing the tradition of broadcasting all day around the FA Cup Final from Wembley Stadium.
ESPN will be bringing fans the FA Cup Final in 3D for the second year in a row. The more than 250,000 Sky World subscribers with a Sky+HD box and a 3D TV will also be able to watch the match in 3D. It will also be available in the more than 1,500 Sky 3D pubs nationwide. The 3D sports syndication agreement follows collaboration between ESPN 3D and Sky 3D to deliver coverage of ESPN’s Winter X Games and the NBA Finals.
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