For the World Cup matches in 2018 and 2022, held in Russia and Qatar respectively, fans will no longer flip to the Disney-owned ESPN channels to watch coverage of the soccer playoffs. This week Fox, Telemund and Spanish language Futbol de Primera Radio paid a combined $1.2 billion to rights to broadcast the two-tournament package in the United States.
Fox, which individualy paid around $425 million, will own the rights to all FIFA events between 2015 and 2022, including the men’s World Cup in 2018 and 2022, the women’s world cup in 2015 and 2019 and all Under-20 and Under-17 matches. Gaining the broadcast rights to the World Cup is the crowning achievement to the network’s portfolio that already includes the UEFA Champions League, the English Premier League and Italy’s Serie A.
ESPN, which broadcast the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and will host the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, paid $100 million in a package deal with Univision that totaled $425 million for broadcasting rights. ESPN and Univision were favored to retain the rights for upcoming World Cup tournaments. These recent deals have proved that while the United States may not have the widest soccer fan base, it is FIFA’s most lucrative market. FIFA earns about 90 percent of its revenue from broadcasting, marketing and sponsorship deals tied to the World Cup. As a whole, the association estimated that it earned approximately $2.4 billion in broadcast sales worldwide for the 2010 tournament alone.
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