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Volume 21 No. 1
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A run on E: Fox Sports joins the e-sports race with new deal to carry FIFA event

Fox Sports has signed a rights deal to carry the e-sports event FIFA Interactive World Cup 2016, live from New York’s Apollo Theater next week, marking the media company’s first move into the white-hot e-sports market.

FIFA executives approached Fox earlier this year about televising the event’s final round. Fox, which holds FIFA World Cup rights through 2026, agreed. A Fox executive would not say whether the deal included a rights fee.

“Our strategy is to work with some of our current partners if they have a tournament like the FIFA tournament,” said Bill Wanger, Fox Sports’ executive vice president of programming research and content strategy. “UFC just announced the release of a big game. If they came to us and wanted to do something, I think we would totally entertain it. It would have to be strategic with our current partners.”

The final round will be carried from 6-8 p.m. ET on FS1, FoxSports2Go and FoxSoccer2Go, with the preliminary rounds available on YouTube and Twitch.

Fox’s final-round production will focus on finalists as they play EA Sports’ “FIFA 16” game via PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles culminating in a winner from each group. Programming will incorporate the crowd at the Apollo, which should come close to selling out its 1,500 seats.