FIFA has decided to extend the TV rights to FOX Sports and Telemundo through until the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Both FOX and Telemundo already had the TV rights to the FIFA 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments, but FIFA today announced that the rights have been extended through 2026 for the US broadcasters, while CTV/TSN will have the rights in Canada through 2026.
The announcement by FIFA is a shocking decision, which raises questions whether newspaper reports of FOX considering a lawsuit against FIFA due to the proposal of the 2022 World Cup being moved from the summer to the winter may have had something to do with the “peace offering” from soccer’s world governing body.
At the time of the report, in September 2013, the possibility was floated that FIFA may have considered reducing the amount of money that FOX Sports would pay for the rights ($425 million for World Cup 2018 and 2022) if the World Cup 2022 date was moved.
It’s plausible that FIFA may have decided to extend the TV rights to 2026 instead of issuing a discount on its 2018 and 2022 rights fees.
Given the timing of today’s decision, the possibility of the 2022 FIFA World Cup being moved to the winter has taken a measurable step forward.
Meanwhile, the TV rights through 2026 includes FIFA World Cup 2018/2022/2026, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015/2019/2023 as well as the FIFA Club World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments.
“We are truly honored that FIFA has elected to extend FOX Sports’ rights to the portfolio of FIFA events including the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup through 2026,” said FOX Sports spokesman Lou D’Ermilio. “These events are some of the world’s most important sports competitions, and it is our privilege to be entrusted with these rights in the United States. We’re looking forward to the kick-off of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in June with great anticipation.”
“We’re very pleased that FIFA allowed us to extend our deal as the exclusive U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster of FIFA World Cup™ tournaments through 2026,” said Joe Uva, Chairman of Hispanic Enterprises and Content, NBCUniversal. “This unprecedented agreement gives our Telemundo and NBC Universo viewers and digital consumers more of the world’s best soccer for the next twelve years.”
“FIFA aims to distribute the highest quality coverage of its international tournaments to as wide an audience as possible,” said a FIFA spokesperson. “FIFA constantly reviews and monitors global market conditions for sports media rights in order to make the best decision for each market. The agreement extensions announced on Thursday were the result of a detailed assessment of the market and discussions with the relevant broadcasters.”
Despite FIFA saying that it did a “detailed assessment of the market and discussions with the relevant broadcasters,” World Soccer Talk has it on good authority that neither ESPN nor Univision were contacted regarding the opportunity to put their hat in the ring for the broadcast rights.
FOX Sports has the English-language rights, while the Spanish-language rights go to Telemundo.
“These agreements guarantee wide distribution for FIFA tournaments across the US and Canada. Together, we will be able to further promote football in North America and build on the impressive interest shown by audiences in these major territories during the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” said FIFA Director of TV Niclas Ericson.
Today’s decision by FIFA means that it has given FOX Sports and Telemundo an unprecedented 11 years of exclusive rights in the United States.
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