Putting the BBC at the heart of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Director, BBC Sport

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Wembley was rocking on Tuesday night with the excitement and vibrancy of two passionate footballing nations in World Cup action. Roy Hodgson described it as his ‘proudest moment in football’ as England finally booked their place on the plane to Brazil next summer. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may have fallen short in qualification but all three nations have cause for hope as they look forward to Euro 2016

With less than eight months until the first ball is kicked in the Arena de São Paulo, the BBC’s production teams are honing their plans and addressing the many challenges faced from covering a World Cup in a country more than 30 times the size of the UK.  The month-long 2014 World Cup will take place in 12 cities across 2 different time zones.

The good news for audiences in the UK is that nearly all matches will kick-off between 5pm and 11pm BST. All the matches will be shown live on TV by the BBC and our long-standing broadcast partners for the tournament, ITV. The BBC will be offering more content than ever for this World Cup, with an aspiration to deliver a ‘24-hour service’, personalised according to whatever device or platform that audiences want to use. 

The BBC’s TV coverage will once again be led by Match of the Day's, Gary Lineker, with Mark Pougatch presenting 5 live’s extensive coverage from Rio. The coverage on BBC News will be led by sports editor David Bond, while BBC World Service will be linking up with their colleagues in BBC Brasil to cover all the international angles of the World Cup.

There are 48 matches in the opening 15 days, so it represents a huge logistical challenge for our planners - an effort outweighed only by the privilege and sense of pride that comes with covering a World Cup in Brazil. We can’t wait for the main draw to take place in Bahia in early December so that we can finalise our plans - we’ll be live in Brazil for that enticing milestone.

With over 6 million requests for tickets from more than 200 countries around the world, the excitement is building ahead of the tournament.

The World Cup is the highlight of the international football calendar and next year’s tournament will most likely be watched or listened to, by over three-quarters of the UK population. We believe the quality of our production must do justice to that level of national interest as well as the significant investment required to acquire the broadcast rights.

As with Germany in 2006 and South Africa in 2010, the BBC will be basing its main TV studio at the heart of the World Cup, this time in central Rio. We have learned over the years that audiences value being immersed in the atmosphere and surround-sound of a World Cup, which can only be delivered through teams on location. We are delighted to have reached agreement with FIFA to take-up 1 of their 10 international TV studios in a purpose-built block they are constructing in Rio. It is a cost effective way for us to present the TV coverage that captures the colour and buzz of this iconic Brazilian city. BBC Radio and BBC News will also be relying heavily on this infrastructure to support their presentation plans. 

The BBC’s broadcasting of the London 2012 Olympics set a new benchmark for digital coverage of a major sporting event – and audiences have told us they expect the BBC to raise the bar in the future.

What better opportunity than one of the biggest sporting events on the planet taking place at its spiritual home? 

Barbara Slater is Director, BBC Sport

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