As an unabashed critic of all things FOX Sports, the last thing I needed to read was FOX getting their hands on more soccer. Earlier this week ESPN, NBC, and FOX bid for English-language rights to the FIFA World Cup and other FIFA tournaments including the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. FOX crushed everyone and now they’re our soccer overlords starting after the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
FOX secured the rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, beating out bids from ESPN and NBC submitted this week in Switzerland, it was reported Friday.
A FIFA official told The Associated Press that FOX won the US English-language rights for 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar). Terms of the deal were not immediately available.
A spokesman for FOX Sports said the company would not comment.
With the new pact, FOX will also broadcast the 2015 and 2019 Women’s World Cup and will have the rights to all other FIFA events, including the U-17 and U-20 games, from 2015 through 2022.
The 2010 Men’s World Cup drew the most US viewers ever for the tournament. ESPN announced that broadcasts averaged a 2.1 rating (2.29 million households and 3,26 million viewers), a 31 percent increase over 2006. The final between the Netherlands and Spain was the most-watched men’s World Cup game by viewers (15.55 million).
No. No. Just no. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but ESPN losing rights is an absolutely terrible thing for soccer fans in this country. Knowing FOX, they won’t do the sensible thing and ask their British partner Sky Sports for a few of their broadcasters for the big events. Instead it’ll probably be Terry Bradshaw anchoring the opening match from Moscow, Russia with commentary coming from Eric Wynalda and someone from the endless list of mediocre announcers on Fox Soccer Channel. If you watched the 2011 Champions League Final, FOX seriously had a segment hosted by Michael Strahan on the differences between”Futbo” and “Football”. Dumbed down nonsense at its finest.
FOX now has the best soccer portfolio in the country. They’ve now taken away ESPN’s only other major soccer asset. Currently they have the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, English Premier League, England national team home matches, Football League, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Whether you like it or not, the best soccer in the world is now on FOX. If you’re expecting the best coverage in the world then you almost certainly have another thing coming. Please prove me wrong because right now I’m treating this with extreme skepticism.