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Futbol on Fox

By: Darrin Duber-Smith


The U.S. soccer team recently suffered a remarkable defeat at the hands of a tiny island nation off the coast of Venezuela and consequently will miss its first World Cup since 1986. Fans of U.S. men's soccer, and there are many of these, will have to go without seeing the U.S. in action for a while, but perhaps the biggest loser in this whole thing.might be Fox Sports. After all the network paid $200 million for the U.S. English-language rights to broadcast next year's World Cup, and made a bet that viewership for the tournament would continue to achieve great growth as it did in 2010 and to a lesser but still significant degree in 2014.


Image result for us soccer loss trinidad tobago


The growth of soccer in the U.S. has been slow and steady over the decades, and there is evidence (if English Premier League ratings are any indicator) that a growing number of Americans are willing to watch high quality action even if it happens during the early morning hours of the weekend. And so paying for World Cup rights appeared to be a no-brainer for Fox Sports. The trouble is that now that the U.S. is out, there are going to be far fewer people tuning in. This isn't good news for Fox Sports or its usual advertisers who were also expecting a larger audience.


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The U.S. team's four matches in the 2014 World Cup were among the top five most-watched matches, averaging 14.3 million viewers in the U.S. versus 3.8 for other contests. Uh oh. Fox only owns the U.S. rights, and English language ones at that. It's fair to say that marketers won't be bale to sell ads as easily or for as much money if the audience is anticipated to be low. Advertisers will pay less to reach fewer viewers. ESPN brought in over $500 million in advertising during the last Cup and some advertisers ponied up as much as $30 million each on U.S. game ads. Fox Sports is unlikely to come close to that number and could lose its shirt on this deal, but perhaps it could break even or make a bit of cash on its $200 million broadcasting rights investment if marketers get creative with their ad inventory.


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It's a 90 minute game with a long halftime and there are numerous opportunities to place ads during the broadcast, and many possibilities to be creative on what the network can offer advertisers. In addition, event sponsors will want to place ads to "activate" and "leverage" their sponsorships (as they know they must do) to optimize their sponsorship objectives. And there are lots of sponsors. One thing is for certain, marketers will have to try harder without the American team and many of their fans in the mix.

Discussion: Can you think of any creative strategies that marketers at Fox Sports could employ to attract advertisers? 


Discussion: Can you think of any creative strategies that marketers at Fox Sports could employ to attract advertisers?