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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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USWNT, Fox Lose Primetime World Cup Viewing Slots After Shaky Performance

  • The USWNT will not play any more games in primetime at the Women's World Cup.
  • A second-place finish in Group E relegates the U.S. to less-than-deal match times.
Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Besides creating some anxious moments for American fans, the USWNT’s failure to win its group at the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time since 2011 isn’t exactly great news for Fox Sports.

A scoreless draw against Portugal on Thursday and the Netherlands’ 7-0 rout of Vietnam gave the U.S. a second-place finish in Group E — meaning fans in the States must watch the remainder of their quest for a third-straight World Cup victory in the middle of the night.

Fox was betting on the USWNT winning its group (-400 betting favorites pre-tournament) when it collaborated with FIFA on knockout-stage match windows. Had the U.S. won the group, it would’ve played on Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET — and if victorious, the following Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.

Those are the only two East Coast primetime slots left in the tournament being played in Australia and New Zealand, and Fox confirmed to Front Office Sports that game times are already set in stone by FIFA. If the U.S. rallies to the final, its path will look like this (all times ET):

  • Round of 16: Sunday at 5 a.m.
  • Quarterfinals: Friday, Aug. 11 at 3:30 a.m.
  • Semifinals: Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 4 a.m.
  • Final: Sunday, Aug. 20 at 6 a.m.

The U.S.-Netherlands match set a record for Women’s World Cup group-stage viewership after the USWNT’s opening match delivered a near-record number of its own. 

Knockout-round matches in primetime surely would have delivered even bigger audiences, leaving Fox — and fans — wondering what could’ve been. Sweden — the most likely opponent for the U.S. in the next round — has won matches against the Americans in the previous two Olympic tournaments, but the U.S. beat Sweden at the 2019 World Cup.

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