Saturday September 30, 2023

Fox Wants To Cash In On ‘Golden Era’ Of Women’s Sports

  • The 2015 U.S. vs. Japan Final averaged 25.4 million viewers on Fox Sports — the record for the most-watched soccer match ever in American TV history.
  • Ever since, fascination has only grown around women’s stars, and interest in the global event has translated into the company’s ad inventory sales.
Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY
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NEW YORK — The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup from Australia and New Zealand may or may not shatter TV audience records. 

Eight years ago, the U.S. vs. Japan Final averaged 25.4 million viewers on Fox Sports — the record for the most-watched soccer match ever in American TV history, according to Fox Sports executives.

Ever since, fascination and interest has only grown around women’s stars such as Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, along with a subsequent explosion in popularity across women’s sports.

“We look back at 2015 being the time and place where we believe this golden era of women’s sports really ignited. We set the all-time record for a soccer match in the U.S. — men’s or women’s—and it hasn’t been broken yet … until this upcoming year,” said Fox Sports chief executive officer Eric Shanks.

Interest in the global event has translated into the company’s ad inventory sales.

The network said in June, a full month before the tournament, that it sold out 90% of its Women’s World Cup ad sales. Fox’s ad revenue is up 50% over the 2019 Women’s World Cup, which Carli Lloyd and the USWNT won for their second-straight World Cup victory. 

“I would say the automotive category, tech, insurance, financial — all the blue chips are really supporting this World Cup,” Shanks told FOS. “Three of our cornerstone ones that you’ll see a lot, and they’ve been with us for previous World Cups —big supporters of women’s soccer —are Volkswagen, Google, and Verizon. Those are probably the ones that you’ll see the most either through half-time sponsorship, pregame sponsorships, or those bridge shows in between.”

In addition, the arrival of men’s soccer superstar Lionel Messi to MLS’ Inter Miami has helped raise interest to a fever pitch, said Robert Gottlieb, Fox’s president of marketing.

“We are very vested in the growth of soccer in the US, and having Messi come to Miami is great for the sport. It’s a rising tide that will lift all boats, so we’re very happy about it,” Gottlieb said.

FIFA hoped to make $300M in global broadcast fees but will reportedly settle for closer to $200M.

FIFA Reportedly Falls $100 Million Short of Women’s World Cup Rights Goal

FIFA’s first year selling Women’s World Cup broadcast rights was a letdown.
July 14, 2023

Here’s a look at Fox’s coverage plans for the Women’s World Cup, which starts this week:

  • Big Hire: Lloyd, co-captain of the USWNT at the 2019 World Cup, joins Fox as an analyst this year. She’ll work with studio analysts Alexi Lalas, Heather O’Reilly, and Stu Holden. Lloyd also pointed to 2015 as a turning point. “We won, so that really catapulted things. Without that coverage, I wonder where the game would be right now,” she said. “There was a build in 2019, and now here we are in 2023, and it’s the same thing.”
  • Play-by-Play/Analysts: Fox’s match broadcast teams will include: JP Dellacamera and Aly Wagner; Jacqui Oatley and Lori Lindsey; John Strong and Kyndra de St. Aubin; Kate Scott and Danielle Slaton; and Jenn Hildreth and Warren Barton. 
  • Studio/Insider/Features: Rob Stone will serve as Fox’s studio host. Jenny Taft will cover Team USA as Insider, while former ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi will serve as feature correspondent.
  • Rookie to Watch: Former ESPN “College GameDay” star Chris “The Bear” Fallica will debut as Fox’s sports wagering expert in this year’s World Cup.

While the USWNT’s victory over the Netherlands in the 2019 Final averaged a combined 16.9 million viewers across Fox and Telemundo, it outdrew the 2018 Men’s Final.

But, in addition to the USWNT vying for a record third straight victory, Rapinoe has announced this will be her last World Cup — a combination that could have historic TV consequences.

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