One year after the World Cup set viewership records on ESPN/ABC, FIFA has landed a new broadcast partner for the prestigious event.
Fox Sports has acquired English-language rights to the FIFA World Cup starting in 2015, industry publication Sports Business Journal reported Friday. The deal, which is expected to be announced by early next week, includes the Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019 and the Men’s World Cup in 2018 and 2022.
ESPN/ABC, which currently holds rights to the World Cup, will televise the 2014 tournament.
ESPN confirmed the loss of World Cup rights in a statement released on Friday:
“We made a disciplined bid that would have been both valuable to FIFA and profitable for our company, while continuing to grow our unprecedented coverage of the World Cup and Women’s World Cup events. We were aggressive while remaining prudent from a business perspective” (frontrow.espn.go.com, 10/21).
Fox Sports has significantly increased its commitment to soccer in recent years. The FOX broadcast network has televised the UEFA Champions League final in each of the past two years, and this fall began airing tape-delayed English Premier League matches on NFL Sundays.
Sports Business Journal also reported Friday that the Spanish-language World Cup rights had come down to current rightsholder Univision and NBC Universal’s Telemundo.