Only a few days are left before the 2018 World Cup is set to begin and Fox Sports has readjusted its approach with its coverage of the tournament after the United States men’s soccer team lost the two matches it needed to qualify last year.
In 2011, Fox had bid roughly more than $400 million to be able to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cup in English in the United States. Last year, they also gained the extension to showcase the 2026 matches.
With the loss of the U.S. national team (USMNT) and probably its key contributor for viewers, it was estimated that Fox could lose $10 to $20 million in advertising revenue during the month-long tourney.
However, not having the USMNT in the World Cup wasn’t one of the networks largest problem. The several different time zones between the U.S. and Russia also offers its own set of challenges to the network.
The matches would be broadcasted in the early mornings, which would have already been a struggle for Fox to bring up its ratings as compared to when the World Cup was in Brazil and the matches varied from early mornings to noon.
Even then, viewership in sports has begun to show a decline, according to Forbes, the NBA regular season ratings fell six percent when it was compared to the 2015-2016 season. It also, demonstrated a similar effects in the some MLB teams and the NHL, who saw its lowest ratings in years.
So whether the USMNT was even a part of the World Cup or not, Fox Sports would still have faced a negative impact.
Though the network faces damaging obstacles to its revenue, its outlook for a solution was a quick turnaround following the loss.
Having star athletes such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar De Silva Santos, Mohammad Salah, the list continues, will bring in viewers to tune in to those matches. Also, the big-time soccer fans will be tuning in no matter the time the games are shown.
In order to allow its audience to view these games, Fox revealed the “350 Hours of FIFA World Cup Program.” This program, according to Fox Sports, is said to show all 64 matches and other game features. This would be the most coverage than all four of the previous World Cups combined.
Before the elimination of the USMNT, the network was in the midst of creating a two-story studio out in the Moscow’s Iconic Red Square. Those plans weren’t left behind and that is where the it was decided to have to have Rachel Bonnetta host a 30-minute live show, along with other on-air personalities, such as Landon Donovan.
Several advertisers were signed on before the disastrous games by the USMNT, and will continue to be sponsors for the network. Verizon is said to be sponsoring the halftime shows in each of the 64 matches that will be aired through Fox, while Volkswagon will be a sponsor for postgame sessions.
To help real in more views, Fox Sports decided to take an approach to this year’s World Cup as a international cultural movement.
Back in January of 2018, alongside the massive coverage it has proposed to their viewers, the network presented a new agreement with Snapchat and Twitter to reach a larger audience through social media.
With over 178 billion users on Snapchat, it will allow the fans to become immersed in the environment and create content of their own to share with the rest of the world. Twitter will offer any users, whether logged in or logged out, to gather highlights and updates. Live shows, such as Rachel Bonnetta’s, can be viewed only on Twitter. The best part? Both platforms are free and available at a touch of a hand.
After having eight months to tie up any loose ends, time is now up for Fox Sports as Group A is set to kick off the 2018 World Cup on Thursday.