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Much to the chagrin of the average American, the World Cup is arguably the single most popular sporting event in the world. In 2010, FIFA (The Fédération Internationale de Football Association) reported that nearly a billion fans watched some portion of the Cup’s Championship game and close to 3.2 billion (almost half of the world’s population) watched at least one minute of a game during the tournament. Those numbers are simply staggering and with a 2014 projected television audience of almost 4 billion, it’s no surprise that companies have been gearing up to get their piece of the pie. Today, we'll peek at a few of the tech news stories related to the event.

Ultra High-Definition on the Big Stage
In recent months we’ve talked about Sony’s corporate decision to ignore new (non-LCD) display technologies in a move to focus its attention on 4K Ultra-HD products. The company has been forging ahead, full bore, with 4K entries in its television, theater projector and consumer video camera departments. It also has expanded its professional offerings to include 4K solutions from video capture to production and viewing. Recently, Sony and FIFA announced a joint initiative to produce portions of the 2014 World Cup in 4K. Sony will produce one match from the round of 16 (June 28th), one quarter final (July 4th), and the Championship game (July 13th) in Ultra High Definition, using Sony 4K equipment and its own 4K live production system.

“We are very excited to offer an entirely new viewing experience at the greatest sport event in the world, the FIFA World World Cup,” said Soichi Kawachi, Vice President in charge of the FIFA Partnership at Sony. “By leveraging our cutting-edge 4K technology and our premier products and solutions through our partnership with FIFA, we will deliver a unique and totally compelling entertainment experience, conveying the excitement of the matches in Brazil with the depth and vividness that the ultra-high definition of 4K delivers.”

Before early adopters stir themselves into a tizzy, we're sorry to report that 4K match productions won’t be broadcast live. Fans lucky enough to attend the events will find some stadium kiosks where 4K displays will screen the productions, while the rest of us will have to wait for an official documentary movie to be made available for download sometime after the event. Nevertheless, Sony is obviously testing the waters (and its 4K technologies) and the future of 4K source material continues to rapidly take shape.

Watch the Cup, Mobile Style
ESPN, the reigning leader in sports television, is broadcasting all 64 matches on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN2, ESPN3, and WatchESPN. For those of you not familiar with a few of those, this means the company is rolling-out multiplatform coverage.

“By creating the most comprehensive experience that is live, personal and social, we will be at the top of our game in serving sports fans with anytime, anywhere, any device access to every match, goal, star player, news story and commentary. It will be a global effort befitting of the events in Brazil,” said John Kosner, executive vice president, ESPN Digital and Print Media.

Fans will not only have unprecedented access to games through television, but will also be able to stream coverage directly to smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app. All ten of ABC’s covered games will also be available through the WatchABC app. In addition, ESPN3 Surround will give fans the option to listen to game broadcasts in multiple languages including Portuguese and Korean. ESPN Surround will also stream exclusive alternate camera angles (high and wide views of the pitch) along with a stable of instantly updated highlight reels.

Show Your National Pride, Hi-Fi Style
Finally, we have a Hi-Fi entry on the style side of the World Cup. If you’re looking to sport your colors while listening on headphones, the flashy headphone manufacturer Sol Republic has a product for you: FUTBOL Series headbands. The company has released a series of eight unique special edition headbands, representing England, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and the United States. The headbands sell for $44.99 each (currently 10% off with the coupon code FUTBOL14) and are compatible with Sol Repulbic’s Tracks or Master Tracks headphones.

Image Credits: Sony/FIFA, ESPN, Sol Republic
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