AFTER ESPN named Dave O'Brien--who had virtually no
soccer experience--as the lead announcer for its World Cup coverage, network VP
Jed Drake explained, "We felt the need to create a non-soccer-centric
audience." While ESPN did see ratings improve by 75% over 2002 (when games
aired in the middle of the night), aficionados groaned at the performance of
O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa (above left, with O'Brien). Many, in fact, decided
to watch in a language they didn't understand: Univision, which outdrew ABC and
ESPN, reported that 42% of its 50 million Cup viewers were non-Hispanic.