As I flipped between ESPN and FX (a Fox channel) tonight, I saw them broadcasting news that Fox had won the bid for the broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup in the United States. The big news was made more so by the large numbers in relation to the bid. Fox, Telemundo (an NBC held Spanish language channel) and Spanish language radio paid a combined $1.2 billion for the rights to the two tournaments. Fox by themselves are going to pay around $425 million. To put that into perspective the current right holders of ESPN and Univision paid a combined $425 million for the U.S. rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup. They are saying that FIFA has really cashed in with this new mega bid, with the new rights holders (as of 2015) paying close to double the price than their previous competitors. While the World Cup has become more popular in the U.S. in recent years, I am not sure that this deal is really worth it for Fox.
As I write this, I am having a bar scroll on the bottom of my TV saying that DirectTV (my television provider in the U.S.) is about to drop FX, Fox Sports, Fox Soccer Channel, and Fox Soccer Plus. These would be all of the main channels through which the games would be broadcast in the U.S. Naturally, I am not pleased, as Fox Soccer Channel is one of my main gateways to European soccer while living in the U.S. While there is a lot of time till Fox wins the deals, I think the availability of the ESPN channels is much better, and makes me worry about whether I’ll be able to watch the games I want in the United States, once Fox takes over the rights.