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SBD/October 21, 2011/Media
Fox, Not ESPN, Expected To Be Awarded FIFA World Cup Rights For '18, '22
Published October 21, 2011
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ESPN, UNIVISION OUTBID: In separate statements, ESPN and Univision said they were simply outbid for the rights. ESPN said, "We made a disciplined bid that would have been both valuable to FIFA and profitable for our company, while continuing to grow our unprecedented coverage of the World Cup and Women's World Cup events. We were aggressive while remaining prudent from a business perspective." In its statement, ESPN said it was committed to covering soccer, referencing its deals with UEFA, EPL, La Liga and MLS. Given MLS' low ratings on ESPN, it will be interesting to see how aggressive ESPN will be to retain those rights when its MLS media deal expires in '14. Univision's statement also pointed out that the network was being fiscally prudent. "We thank FIFA for the opportunity to participate. On our part we look forward to continue to be the number one destination for soccer programming. As always, we remain committed to prudently evaluating content investments to ensure that we dedicate our resources toward an optimum mix of the news, sports and entertainment programming our audiences love most." In its statement, Univision referenced its other soccer coverage, which includes rights to 12 of the 18 Mexican League soccer teams, U.S. men's national soccer team, Mexican men's national soccer team, CONCACAF Gold Cup and CONCACAF Champions League, CONMEBOL Copa America and MLS.
COULD SPUR GROWTH OF FOX SOCCER CHANNEL: Fox and Telemundo picked up rights to all FIFA events from '15-22, including the men's World Cup in '18 and '22; the women's World Cup in '15 and '19; and all U-20 and U-17 games. Fox is expected to use the rights to help its Fox Soccer Channel, which has a lot of room to grow. It is in just 39 million homes, according to Nielsen numbers from October. Distributors pay $0.17 per subscriber per month for the channel, according to SNL Financial.