CBC gears up for World Cup

Ad inventory is 'really close' to being sold out as the network gets ready to airs its exclusive 64-game coverage of the soccer tournament across CBC, Bold and online.

CBC will broadcast 1,000 hours of soccer, in English and French, starting next month when its coverage of the FIFA World Cup gets underway June 11 with the opening ceremony from Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium.

It marks a rare opportunity for the Ceeb, which is the first broadcaster in at least two decades to have exclusive rights to the massive soccer match. TSN and Rogers Sportsnet shared the event in 2006. All 64 games will air live on CBC Television, the cable channel Bold and online at CBCsports.ca, while SRC will handle French coverage. The main network will air 56 games live, with the other overlapping eight assigned to Bold. The pubcaster will also re-run some games in prime time, considering the six-hour time difference.

‘It’s a big undertaking,’ executive producer Trevor Pilling says. ‘This is a property for all of CBC, not just the sports department, so every platform is engaged.’ Pilling also exec produced CBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He credits the CTV consortium for a good job on its multi-platform offering of the Vancouver Games, but says the pubcaster wasn’t really influenced by what it saw on the competition, as its multi-platform plans were already in place for World Cup.

‘It’s a continual growth in our industry of making content available to viewers when they want it,’ he observes, adding that CBC in 2008 also utilized different platforms for the Beijing Olympics.

Advertising inventory for the tournament is ‘really close’ to being sold out, according to Alan Dark, CBC’s exec director of sales marketing, who says the response has been very good and that the pubcaster is outpacing its expectations. The price tag for spots during first-run games in the morning is higher than prime time, when the best games of the day will be repeated, but Dark says most clients are buying throughout morning and prime time airings. In 2006, four million people tuned into the World Cup final on CTV, with an average of 2.84 million viewers over the course of the game. As MiC reported then, the viewership was almost double the 2002 World Cup, carried on CBC.

If above-average numbers for large-scale sporting events this year (Super Bowl, Vancouver Olympics) are any indication, CBC’s World Cup coverage should also benefit significantly from BBM’s Personal People Meters.

‘The way people view soccer often is in groups and public gatherings…hopefully that will help push the ratings to new heights,’ Pilling says, while he also believes thousands of man hours will be lost in offices across the country as people turn to the website to watch soccer.

From Playback Daily