In a recent podcast interview, the head of ESPN revealed that the company wants the FIFA 2030 World Cup rights.
ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro, speaking on Sports Media with Richard Deitsch, discussed the potential of the tournament coming back to ESPN. Deitsch asked if ESPN would consider broadcasting the World Cup again, something Pitaro and ESPN would take on without hesitation.
“Absolutely. Hard stop. Without any reservations. If they were coming up for the next World Cup , I would say the same thing,” Pitaro said.
“Whenever they are ready to talk, we’re ready to sit down with them.”
After missing out on the World Cup rights for 2018 and 2022 back in 2015, FOX extended its rights to the FIFA World Cup through the 2026 tournament. In that tournament, hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada, FIFA expects the biggest World Cup in history. Reason being, the number of teams jumps from 32 to 40. Plus, there are more countries joining to host one World Cup.
ESPN wants the FIFA 2030 World Cup rights
For the 2030 World Cup, Pitaro says ESPN is ready to enter the foray of international coverage again. Currently, soccer has a strong presence on ESPN’s family of networks and channels, particularly ESPN+. However, the ESPN+ platform is the home of the Bundesliga and La Liga for U.S. viewers, and does not have prominence in the international soccer area.
“It’s a fantastic game,” Pitaro said. “I think soccer is part of the identity, today, of ESPN+. If you are a soccer fan, you pretty much have to have ESPN+. But, we are all in on the sport.”
As of now, FOX is the home of international soccer in the United States. The channel carries the CONCACAF Gold Cup, CONMEBOL Copa America and, starting in 2024, the UEFA European Championship. Plus, of course, it houses both the men’s and women’s World Cup tournaments.
ESPN used to have a role in broadcasting these events. Most recently, ESPN aired its final European Championship for Euro 2020 this past year. Moreover, ESPN broadcasted the World Cups in the United States from 1994 until 2014. That consecutive run started with the United States hosting the tournament in ’94.
ESPN looks to build on the popularity raised in the sport following the United bid in 2026. The FIFA 2030 World Cup could be a driver for subscriptions to ESPN+ should any deal come to fruition.
PHOTO: Buda Mendes/Getty Images
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