World Cup set to expand 3D, mobile, Web viewing

The World Cup, the event considered to be the most widely viewed sporting event in the world is set to begin on Friday. Held every four years, this year the event will spread to mobile devices and the Web, making watching highlights for those who can’t want via television a thing of the past.

That is, of course, assuming mobile users aren’t constrained by or worried about bandwidth caps, such as AT&T’s recently announced changes to their data plans.

Walt Disney’s networks ESPN and ABC are broadcasting the games in the U.S. Additionally, the networks will stream 54 games live on the newly launched, which was formerly ESPN360.

Univision Communications has the U.S. Spanish-language broadcasting rights. It, too, will have stream games, on and Univision Movil. Univision has official Univision Movil apps on the iPhone OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian, as well.

Additionally, ESPN 3D will launch with the first World Cup match, on June 11: South Africa vs. Mexico. Naturally, you need both a 3D-capable TV and 3D glasses to watch in 3D. 25 of the 64 matches will be in 3D. ESPN 3D has signed deals with TV providers such Cox Communications, Comcast, AT&T U-verse and DirecTV to broadcast the new network.

Expect mobile networks to bend under the strain of the World Cup. Mobile TV use is relatively new in the U.S. and Europe, but ESPN has inked deals with Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, FLO TV and MobiTV to bring games to mobile devices. It will be interesting to see if users will be able to make any cellular calls as the World Cup commences.

Plenty of venues have integrated with social networking sites as well. Expect trash talk to move from just commenting on web pages to Twitter.

It will be interesting to see how many characters are taken up in a Tweet that says “gooooaaaal.”

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