1. Every one of the 64 matches from South Africa will be televised live in high definition on ESPN (44 matches), ESPN2 (10) or ABC (10).
2. ESPN is taking its usual low-key approach with a 24-hour "Countdown to Kickoff" beginning at 9 a.m. CDT on Thursday.
3. The exclusive English-language U.S. rights holder is taking a far more serious approach to its match coverage than in years past. No more trying to introduce soccer to silly Americans who don't know the game and are stopping by for the spectacle. ESPN plans to serve up football for aficionados. All four ESPN play-by-play voices -- Martin Tyler, Ian Darke, Adrian Healey and Derek Rae -- are imports from the other side of the pond. Tyler is to soccer as Al Michaels is to the NFL.
4. Somehow John Harkes, who played on the 1990 and 1994 U.S. World Cup teams, shoehorned his way into the analyst pool among Englishman Robbie Musto, Scotsman Ally McCoist and Englishman Efan Ekoku, who played World Cup for Nigeria.
5. The studio analysts are a more varied international lot. Englishman Steve McManaman is considered the jewel. He'll be joined by Shaun Bartlett, who is South African, Ruud Gullit of the Netherlands, Jurgen Klinsman of Germany, Spain's Roberto Martinez and token American Alexi Lalas.
6. McManaman on the U.S. chances of winning the Cup: "No chance," he told an ESPN-sponsored conference call this week. "...Nothing out there that I think will scare the European teams. I expect it to be dominated heavily by the European teams with Brazil thrown in as well."
7. The U.S. opens pool play against England next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Dallas time. Here's the assessment of Tyler, who will be calling the game: England is "like a heavyweight with a big punch. They do score goals and they manufacture results from poorish overall performances. If the U.S. defends well, they are capable of getting something from the England game. If they don't, then they might well start with a defeat."
8. If you tire of English accents, you can watch the games in Spanish on Univision (56) or Telefutura (8). And if you are really adventurous, matches will be broadcast in Portuguese on ESPN Deportes. ESPN Radio has a full slate of games, as does Sirius XM.
9. ESPN won't be relying on South Africa for electricity. It has brought its own. "The pure technical aspects of this event will be on generator with backups and running 24/7 so we're not on the grid in order to maintain worldwide coverage," reports Jed Drake, the producer in charge of what he refers to as the network's biggest undertaking ever. "As they say, things are going well, which makes us wary. The unforeseen can happen at any turn, but where we're sitting now I'm pleased."
10. As much as ESPN ballyhoos the enormity of the event, it is blowing smoke. The capable studio hosts it is bringing to South Africa are its very own Mike Tirico, Bob Ley and Chris Fowler. Chris Berman is nowhere in sight.