The World Cup was first televised in America in 1966, when NBC did the final(England 4, West Germany 2). The game was played in the afternoon at Wemmbley Stadium ion London, and was broadcast in this country on same-day tape delay. This was the first time soccer had been shown in the US as a stand-alone broadcast (ABC's 'Wide World of Sports' had previously shown England's Football Association Cup on as long as a two-week delay).By 1970, the NASL was struggling, and had lost its TV contract with CBS. As a result, there was no network TV coverage of the 1970 World Cup. I understand there were delayed closed-circuit broadcasts, shown in movie theaters, in largely Hispanic areas of the U.S. The same was true for 1974. In 1978, the Cup was held in Argentina, and televised in the United States once again, not in English, but on SIN, the forerunner of Univision. Some games were shown live, the first time this had happened. I'm not sure if ABC covered the final for 'Wide World of Sports' that year, but, as you mentioned, they definitely did in 1982. I'm not aware of any other matches of the '82 being shown on US TV.1986(held in Mexico) marked the beginning of extensive live English-language coverage on cable, as ESPN carried most of the weekday matches, while NBC did weekend games, interrupted by commercials. SIN continued to carry all matches live and uninterrupted.In 1990, TNT was the exclusive home of US TV coverage in English, but they continued the practice of interrupting matches for commercials. Univision(the renamed SIN) was the only place to see every minutre of every match.The ABC-ESPN deal, made prior the '94 World Cup, has defined American TV's coverage of soccer ever since, with no commercial interruptions, aside from sponsor 'billboards' onscreen.
to add to what tvradio fan has posted, i will add what info i have compiled:Voices of the World Cup Early Rounds Final Commentators20062002 ESPN, ESPN2, ABC ABC Jack Edwards, Ty Keough1998 ESPN, ESPN2, ABC ABC Bob Ley, Seamus Malin1994 ESPN, ESPN2, ABC ABC Roger Twibell, Seamus Malin1990 TNT TNT Bob Neal, Kyle Rote Jr.1986 ESPN, NBC NBC Charlie Jones, Rick Davis, Paul Gardner1982 PBS, ESPN ABC Jim McKay, Mario Machado, Paul Gardner1978 None None1974 CBS CBS David Coleman*1970 ABC ABC Jim McKay1966 None NBC Kenneth Wolstenholme*1962 None None1958 None None1954 None None*Used BBC feed, with BBC commentators.U.S. Spanish Language Final commentators:2002 Univision Pablo Ramierez, Jesus Bracamontes1998 Univision Andres Cantor, Norberto Longo1994 Univision Andres Cantor, Norberto Longo1990 Univision Andres Cantor, Norberto Longo1986 SIN Tony Tirado, Norberto Longo, Jorge Berry1982 SIN Used Televisa (Mexico) feed, Gerardo Pena (pxp), analyst unknown1978 SIN Tony Tirado, Enrique Gratas1974 SIN Tony Tirado1970 SIN Tony Tirado Notes: The World Cup, almost indisputably the biggest sports event on the planet, had – until 1994 - received notoriously poor coverage in the U.S. Over 100 nations have provided wall-to-wall coverage since the communications satellite launchings allowed for worldwide coverage beginning in 1966. European coverage of the World Cup has been extensive since 1954 (though with the World Cup held in Chile in 1962, much of the Euro coverage that year was tape-delayed).The first American coverage of the World Cup consisted only of a same day tape-delayed telecast of the 1966 Final on NBC. 1970’s coverage was usually week-old highlights shown on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. 1974’s coverage also contained week-old highlights on CBS Sports Spectacular. 1978 had no coverage on home TV at all!! Finally in 1982, PBS and ESPN provided the first thorough American coverage of the World Cup. And ABC at last aired the first live telecast of the Final (though tarnished by commercials aired during live action).1986 for the first time had extensive live cable and network coverage.1990 was covered exclusively by cable (TNT) and had many features of the host country (Italy).1994 coverage had many firsts; the first with ALL matches televised, the first with no commercial interruptions during live action, and the first to feature an on-screen score & time box.1998 finally brought the U.S. in line with the rest of the world with ALL matches televised live. 2002 coverage was all live as well, in spite of the games being played in Japan and South Korea.2006 coverage will be all live as well.any more info needed, please let me know.hope this helps.tb