FOX Sports has acquired the US media rights to the European qualifiers for UEFA Euro 2016 and FIFA World Cup 2018.
FOX will have exclusive rights in the USA to all of the qualifying matches.
The qualifying matches for Euro 2016 begins in September, 2014 and runs through November, 2015 to determine the 23 qualifying teams (France, as host automatically qualifies for the tournament). The draw for the qualifying rounds is scheduled for March, 2014.
According to a statement on the UEFA website, “In the past, matches were often scheduled simultaneously, but will now be distributed over the matchweek, allowing viewers to follow the qualifying paths of more teams.” This is a huge change in the way that matches are scheduled, and it’s a giant step forward in the right direction where, in the past, it was often difficult to watch matches because there were so many being played at the same time.
Meanwhile, the draw for the European qualifying matches for FIFA World Cup 2018 is scheduled for July, 2015. Russia, as hosts, qualify automatically.
Presumably many of the high profile European qualifiers will be televised live on FOX Sports 1, while the less high profile ones could be shown on FOX Sports Go, their soon-to-be-launched mobile sports app.
For FOX Sports, this is a considerable coup to acquire the US media rights to all of the European qualifiers from 2014 through 2018. It means that as soon as ESPN’s coverage of the FIFA World Cup ends in the summer of 2014, FOX Sports 1 will have a monopoly on all of the important European international qualifiers for the next four years leading up to its coverage of the 2018 World Cup. ESPN still has the US media rights to Euro 2016, but will that be the last major soccer event on ESPN in the United States for the foreseeable future?
In Canada, Rogers Sportsnet, Inc. has purchased the media rights to UEFA qualifiers in for 2014-2017. In Spanish-speaking Latin America, SKY Mexico and DIRECTV Latin America has the rights.
FOX Sports has the US media rights to the FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2022 tournaments.