SBJ/June 4-10, 2012/Media

Fox Soccer makes Euro plans, rights or not

Fox Soccer Channel does not hold the rights to Euro 2012, the European soccer tournament that starts this week.

ESPN does.

But Fox Soccer still plans to devote 30 hours of coverage and an extensive marketing campaign around the monthlong event that Fox executives hope will drive viewership, boost online traffic and help the company prepare for the Women’s World Cup, which it will telecast from Canada in 2015.

“We made a decision more than a year ago that in order for us to evolve as a brand, we need to own the soccer conversation whether or not we own the rights,” said Fox Soccer General Manager David Nathanson.

The channel also plans to set up “Mobile Viewing Parties” in eight U.S. cities to watch certain games. The parties will be hosted throughout June in New York City (June 8 and 11), Boston (June 10), Philadelphia (June 13), Washington, D.C. (June 15 and 16), Portland (June 18), Los Angeles (June 22 and 26), San Diego (June 24) and San Francisco (July 1).

Nathanson said he was gratified enough by FoxSoccer.com’s traffic during last year’s World Cup — another event to which it didn’t hold rights — that it wanted to extend its coverage to include television, too. Last year, Fox picked up rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, plus the Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019.

“FoxSoccer.com’s traffic during the last World Cup proved to us that if we extend this to television, we are the place that people will find to talk about the sport,” Nathanson said. “We think we will be a complement to ESPN’s coverage.”

Held every four years, the Euro event is Europe’s premier soccer tournament involving the national teams of 16 European countries. This year, the monthlong event will be held in Poland and the Ukraine.

Fox Soccer will pool video from News Corp.’s international networks, such as Sky Sports News (Britain), Sky Italia (Italy) and Sky Sports News (Germany). The U.S. channel is sending two crews to cover the event — one based in Poland, the other based in the Ukraine. Fox is committing to telecasting its “Fox Soccer Report” nightly from June 3 through July 1.

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