SVG Sit-Down: ESPN Coordinating Producer Amy Rosenfeld
For 15 years, there hasn’t been a World Cup without Amy Rosenfeld. Beginning with the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup — for which she produced the world feed for matches featuring the U.S. Women’s National Team, including the team’s dramatic victory over China in the Final — and continuing this summer in Brazil, Rosenfeld has served as lead producer for every English-language telecast of the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup.
At ESPN’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Media Preview, ESPN Coordinating Producer Rosenfeld sat down with SVG to discuss production challenges, partnering with ESPN’s international teams, and her goals for Brazil.
Obviously, there’s been a lot of talk about South Africa in 2010. What, in your mind, is the biggest workflow change for this World Cup?
I think the biggest change from South Africa is this added level of challenge technically because of the size of Brazil. We went from Germany [in 2006], where everything was close — a train ride [away] — [and there was] solid infrastructure and power you can rely on, to South Africa, [where] I was pleasantly surprised — we were worried about things like telco and power — to Brazil, where now the scope and scale is so massive. Our ability to cover the country is absolutely the biggest challenge, whether we’re SNG [or] whether we’re fiber. We’re relying on the host broadcaster to provide flypacks so we can actually have a unilateral presence in Manaus [a remote location where the U.S. will play Portugal on June 22].
Having the whole ESPN Brazil presence — I think they’re up to nine SNGs in the country — we can sort of checkerboard around and be able to cover all areas as best as we can. It’s challenging with the announcers. We went in with the idea we would have four commentary teams, and, due to travel situations in Brazil coupled with the way the draw fell out, Ian Darke has to go to Manaus twice, which virtually takes him out of the mix for a week. We have to go in with six commentary teams just to be able to cover every match. We are calling every match from Brazil [and] need six teams to be able to blanket the country.
How important is your relationship with ESPN Brazil?
We’d be dead in the water [without them]. Absolutely, we would be dead in the water. They have the knowledge of the country, they have the knowledge of how to work within the infrastructure, [how to get] government permits, how relationships work. You don’t just get on the phone to do a deal. A deal is about sitting at the dinner table for three weeks in a row and, the last five minutes of the dinner, you’re saying, Thank you so much for inviting me to dinner, Would it be OK if I put my cable here? That’s how it works in Brazil. It’s all about relationships, and it’s all about having the ability to navigate the bureaucracy of permitting and government issues and do it all legally.
How about ESPN International? That infrastructure has been in place for a while.
Oh yeah, it’s massive. As much as [ESPN] Brazil helps us, we also have our whole presence in Mexico and being able to rely on that infrastructure. I’ll give you an example: our  Confederations Cup coverage in [Brazil] was completely on the backs of Mexico. They brought their trucks in, and we were on the backs of ESPN Mexico.
It’s relationships. It’s being able to have the navigation ability of working with a specific team. We know the U.S. team. We know how to work with them, we know the P.R. director, we know how to get what we want. We have other networks in our family who know how to deal with Argentina or know how to deal with Brazil, who know how to be able to handle their team.
What are your goals for Brazil?
Not to screw it up [laughs]. … [to] walk away feeling like we did justice to a World Cup in the country of Brazil, that we covered the soccer, that we covered the experience. And, for everyone who doesn’t come to Brazil, that they felt like they were there in the stadiums, on the beach. If we can achieve that, then I think [it will be a success].