Google and ESPN Team Up to Dominate World Cup Coverage

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

It just got a whole lot easier for you to find out what’s going on in a FIFA World Cup match if you’re not in front of the TV. As Quartz reports, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Disney (NYSE:DIS)-controlled ESPN have teamed up to offer video highlights of FIFA World Cup matches as they’re still in progress. When you Google a World Cup match, the video will display directly on the search results page, and will be accompanied by a timeline, statistics, plus the match’s full lineup. Those results will show up whether you’re on a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone.

The feature represents the first time that Google and ESPN have teamed up to integrate video game highlights onto Google Search results pages, and the highlights will be particularly useful for people who aren’t watching the matches on television, but are following along via Twitter, live blogs, and other online sources. Google says that even searching for  “World Cup” will show team lineups, live scores, and player stats. At the bottom of the highlights display, Google links to FIFA’s website. But ESPN will also benefit from the videos displayed at the top of the search results because clicking the video won’t play the highlights directly on the search results page, instead directing you to the clip on ESPNFC.com.

Additionally, users with a paid subscription to ESPN will be able to click through to matches on WatchESPN. The partnership brings the best footage of the game to all users, even those without paid television service, so that they can watch the most exciting moments of each match immediately after they happen, instead of hours later, once individual users have uploaded them to sites like YouTube.

The partnership is a smart move for Google, which is likely looking to boost its status as a platform for users to find up-to-the-minute news and information. For a topic like the World Cup, millions of fans are looking for video replays and highlights, and it makes sense to give them exactly that — plus the other information that they’re likely to be looking for — right at the top of their Google Search results. Searching for a team or match and finding stats and video highlights at the top of the page feels like getting direct access to the most relevant information, similar to Google’s move to displaying Wikipedia results on commonly searched people, companies, and events on the right side of search results.

The choice to integrate ESPN video highlights coincides with Google’s broad push to become a top destination for match information during this year’s World Cup. As reported by Mashable, Google Now users will see match lineups without having to search, and Google Street View coverage includes views inside and outside of the 12 stadiums where matches will take place. Google has also launched google.com/worldcup as part of its Google Trends section to provide a “real-time guide to the players, teams and moments that are capturing the world’s attention.”

The integration is also great for ESPN, which is likely to see a boost in traffic to its TV Everywhere platform. Search results will feature live matches on WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app, which is certainly intended to enhance ESPN’s status as a destination for World Cup viewing. The video highlights also provide significant exposure to ESPN’s advertisers. And while ESPN wouldn’t provide Quartz with any financial details of the deal,  it seems a valuable partnership for both parties — plus the fans, who will certainly benefit from the convenience of finding match highlights and information so easily.

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