21 October 2011

Fox Wins Rights to 2018 & 2022 FIFA World Cups

Bids from ESPN, NBC and Fox were submitted on Wednesday in Zurich for the television rights for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups. ESPN was considered the favorite due to their tremendously successful coverage of the 2010 World Cup meanwhile NBC was considered more of an upstart as the new kid on the block trying to chip away at ESPN and build the NBC Sports Network (now known as Versus). Fox was considered a wild card if anything and not much of a real contender. But today in a surprise move, the rights have been awarded to Fox. Here are my initial thoughts.
Now Fox Soccer (formerly Fox Soccer Channel) has done very good work in it's coverage of various international fĂștbol, most notably of the Barclay's Premier League. But Fox's coverage has been spotty not for their announcers or coverage of the action itself but for how Fox feels that the American people do not understand soccer. For example this embarrassing clip right here from the pregame show of the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final:

Does Fox really need to tell Americans the difference between football and fĂștbol? And do we really need the weakest link of Fox NFL Sunday to break it down.
In terms of outlets to watch the games, obviously games will be on Fox and FX. The question is what will the third network involved be. ESPN had ABC and ESPN2 carry games as there are so many games as part of the tournament. Fox Soccer does not have great distribution and the Fox Sports Net RSN's are not available in every market (many have Comcast SportsNet RSN's). Would Fox be willing to use Fox News Channel to carry games or possibly their network sister My Network TV? Time will tell, after all this is seven years prior to when the action will commence.
But the big question is, can Fox duplicate the tremendous coverage that ESPN had in 2010?

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