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Networks Battling Until Last Minute Over Who Has To Air World Cup

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Networks Battling Until Last Minute Over Who Has To Air World Cup

NEW YORK—The bidding war over the 2010 FIFA World Cup continues to rage between television networks, with multimillion-dollar sums being offered for the rights to show something other than soccer's greatest spectacle. "When the World Cup begins this June, millions of viewers across the nation will be tuning into something, anything, else," said ESPN program director Lisa Hibbing, whose network is currently losing the bidding war and may be forced to air more than 60 matches. "Considering ESPN's main demographic—young male sports fans—and taking into account the time difference between the U.S. and South Africa, and reflecting on our reputation as a sports channel, we'd much rather be showing car-product infomercials at that hour of the morning. Long story short, we're prepared to offer NBC roughly half a billion dollars." When asked for comment, NBC executives said they had "just barely dodged the Olympic bullet" and that it was someone else's turn.

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