Women’s World Cup a deep draught for ESPN

Net's Skipper revels in soccer's latest successes at keynote address

ESPN content exec VP John Skipper has a lot in his plate, but there might not be an entree he’s more enthusiastic about right now than soccer.

Women’s World Cup fever has grown with the U.S. team’s dramatic success, leaving Skipper validated for ESPN’s embrace of and approach to the sport.

“We decided we’re not going to explain the game,” Skipper said at the Variety/SVG Sports Entertainment Summit on Thursday. “We’re not gonna dumb it down. We’re not gonna apologize for 0-0 ties.

“The beauty of soccer is the tension of how hard it is to score and the fact that you can score (suddenly) at any time,” added Skipper, who expects consistent growth in the sport’s U.S. fan base.

Skipper addressed a range of topics at his keynote Q&A, including whether others would try to copy the upcoming Longhorn Network, launching next month.

“When people (contemplate) networks, they always forget the most fundamental thing: 8,760. That’s the number of hours in a 24-7, 365-day network. People say, ‘We have 110 games.’ Great — you only have (about 8,000) hours to go.”

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