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Fox and Telemundo Win U.S. Rights to 2018 and 2022 World Cups

  • “This is what people have been talking about since the World Cup was held in the United States in 1994 — is the U.S. a soccer nation?
  • A decade ago, with television interest in the World Cup lagging, Major League Soccer’s marketing arm bought the English-language rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups for $40 million, paid production costs to have the games broadcast on ESPN and split advertising revenue with the network.
  • Fox, which said it was “truly honored,” scored a coup in wresting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups away from ESPN/ABC, which has broadcast soccer’s global championship since 1994.
  • Fox’s bid adds the sport’s crown jewel to a soccer collection on its broadcast network and a cable network, Fox Soccer Channel, that already broadcasts the European Champions League, the world’s premier club competition, along with weekly English Premier League and Italian league matches.
  • Gaining the World Cup should also enhance the cable distribution of Fox Soccer, which is available in 40 million American homes, compared with 100 million for ESPN.

For a record amount of about $1 billion, the deal shows the soaring growth of soccer in the United States.

For a record sum of about $1 billion, Fox and the Spanish-language network Telemundo won the rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in the United States, television executives said Friday, demonstrating the steady and diverse growth of soccer in America.

Fox agreed to pay more than $400 million, while Telemundo, owned by Comcast/NBC, will pay about $600 million to broadcast those two men’s World Cups, several television executives familiar with the deal said. The agreements also give Fox and Telemundo the rights to the 2015 and 2019 Women’s World Cups and other international tournaments.

This amount is more than double the combined $425 million that ESPN ($100 million) and the Spanish-language network Univision ($325 million) paid to broadcast the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2014 World Cup, to be played in Brazil. Both networks had been favored to retain the rights for upcoming World Cups.

While FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, did not release the bid figures, the record rights fees come at a heady time for the sport in the United States.

The women’s World Cup drew record ratings on ESPN this summer. Helped by a crowd of 64,140 in Seattle last weekend, Major League Soccer, the domestic men’s professional league, is expected to set a record for average attendance, about 18,000. Meanwhile, dozens of national and international matches are available to American viewers on television and online each week.

“This is what…

Fox and Telemundo Win U.S. Rights to 2018 and 2022 World Cups