With two more games left in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Fox Sports Digital is already looking to shift focus from its unprecedented and successful coverage of the soccer tournament to future big Fox Sports events.
Fox’s World Cup coverage — led by its FIFA World Cup NOW pre- and post-match series for every tournament game — has garnered record usage across Fox Sports’s app, website and social media platforms, executives said. While digital live-game coverage was available only to subscribers of a multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) or virtual MVPD service, nearly one-third of all Fox Sports digital app downloads came during the last three weeks, according to Fox Sports senior VP of digital Michael Bucklin.
“Even if you removed all World Cup content from our app, almost every day over the last two weeks would have been a record traffic day,” he said. “That new exposure for so many fans who came to us for our World Cup coverage but learned about our NFL and college football coverage will pay dividends for our upcoming NASCAR, USFL and college basketball coverage as we look to serve fans better digitally.”
Bucklin said Fox’s exclusive English-language rights to the World Cup has helped push fans to its digital offerings to get up-to-the-minute information, statistics and highlights from the tournament.
“Unlike many other sports, we are the only ones people can turn to get that action and those live rights from those matches,” he said. “What we saw our task being is to maximize that gift of live, exclusive rights by providing every single goal, big save and big moment in under 5 minutes from when they happen on our website, app and social-media page.”
The result has been unprecedented use of the digital platform. FIFA World Cup NOW, a 20-minute digital pre- and post-match show for every game of the tournament, had generated a total of 79 million views through the semifinal round games — the most-viewed original project ever developed by the group, Fox Sports said.
Bucklin added that digital viewing and usage continued to grow even as some of the biggest and most popular teams, including the U.S., were eliminated. The December 9 lineup of games that included Brazil’s loss to Croatia generated as much traffic on its digital platforms as did the November 25 lineup of games that included the U.S.-England matchup, Bucklin said. The December 10 Morocco-Portugal post-show was the most-watched show of the tournament, he added, with 1.6 million viewers.
Fox Digital’s World Cup experience will better help the group shape its offering for other big events across multiple sports, including Fox’s February 12 coverage of Super Bowl LVII.
“The novelty of the World Cup is hard to replicate, so we want to bring some of that passion as producers for events that we have ahead of us, including the [NFL] NFC championship [game], the Super Bowl, the Big East Tournament, Daytona 500 and the Women’s World Cup next summer,” Bucklin said. “We want to try to instill that into everything that we do that we want to own and dominate in the future.” ■
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.