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SBD/October 24, 2011/Media
Fox Paying Record Fees For Rights To '18, '22 World Cups
Published October 24, 2011
FORMING AN EMPIRE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Lauren Schuker noted the "sharp increases in World Cup fees come as sports rights have escalated in general" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/22). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Jon Lafayette noted Fox can "use the World Cup to boost distribution and rights fees for its soccer channels." The matches "could also wind up on FX, which just added college football and UFC." While ESPN is "often blamed for the rapidly escalating cost of sports rights -- most recently when it agreed to a new $15.2 billion deal with the NFL -- it's interesting to note that in three recent competitions, ESPN was outbid, losing the Olympics and the NHL to Comcast and NBCU, as well as the World Cup to Fox" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 10/21). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Matt Yoder wrote, "What a coup for Fox Sports." If soccer "continues its trend upwards in this country, the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be ratings bonanzas." While ESPN has been "getting all the credit for their soccer coverage, Fox is slowly building a soccer empire." Yoder: "Here's the rub. Fox Sports has been atrocious in televising major soccer events." Yoder asked, "Where does ESPN go from here? ... Nothing will change in the next few years regarding ESPN's superior soccer coverage with the EPL, MLS, US National Team, and 2014 World Cup. However, afterwards I would expect ESPN to more fervently pursue the European club game and make an even bigger commitment to the EPL and others" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 10/21).
NETTING A GOAL: In L.A., Joe Flint noted for Telemundo "in particular, getting the World Cup is a coup." The network has "long trailed Univision in ratings, and having the World Cup will give it a huge platform to promote the rest of its programming to the growing Latino audiences in the United States." NBCU Chair Lauren Zalaznick said, "This landmark deal for Telemundo represents perhaps the greatest milestone in its history" (L.A. TIMES, 10/22). Also in L.A., Lisa Dillman wrote under the header, "Fox Wins World Cup Broadcast Rights -- Worried?" Dillman: "The not-so-funny side of Fox scares people -- in particular, sports fans used to their major events delivered in a certain way. ESPN has handled soccer pitch-perfectly, and the immediate reaction to Friday's news has been a mixture of concern and wariness." Dillman continued, "It's hard to believe ESPN would abandon soccer coverage in a meaningful and immediate way" (L.A. TIMES, 10/23).