With their first men’s World Cup about to kick off, Fox and Telemundo say they’re near their ad sales goals.
This year’s tournament presented some challenges for the networks. The U.S. team was surprisingly eliminated from the event last year, erasing what were expected to be two high-rated games, particularly for Fox. And with matches taking place in Russia, much of the live viewing will take place early in the day, rather than in primetime.
Nevertheless both broadcasters said they found strong demand from advertisers for this year’s World Cup.
“Two days from the start of the World Cup, the demand we’ve had has far outpaced our expectations from when the U.S. didn’t qualify,” said Mike Petruzzi, senior VP for ad sales at Fox Sports. “We believe this will be one of the best performing World Cups on English language television.”
Fox did not disclose how much ad revenue it generated, but Kantar Media estimated that four years ago, ABC and ESPN, which held the U.S. English language rights, garnered $187 million in ad sales. Kantar estimates that Univision sold $336 million worth of ads in 2014.
To get the rights for the next two men’s World Cups, plus two women’s World Cups and a few other less prominent tournaments, Fox paid $400 million and Telemundo parent Comcast ponied up $600 million for the Spanish-language rights.
Initially, it was estimated that the loss of the U.S. team would cost Fox about $20 million in ad sales, but it appears the bite will be significantly smaller.
“How will domestic ad revenue hold up in a year when the U.S. is not represented in the tournament? In two words, ‘Just fine,’” said Jon Swallen, chief research officer at Kantar Media.
Fox saw some last-minute demand for ads when the NBA Finals ended after a four-game sweep. Some advertisers, including movie studios, saw their flights cut short when the season ended early and were looking for high rated programming to promote films.
Sources familiar with the situation said Fox was largely sold out for the group stage, when it will be airing attractive matches including Portugal versus Spain (June 15) and Germany versus Mexico (June 17).
In the later rounds, Fox is telling advertisers it will be charging premium prices for commercials bought at the last minute.
While ratings may be challenged to the games being played in the Russian time zone, streaming and digital revenue is expected to be up sharply from four years ago.
Similarly, Telemundo said it was pleased with its ad sales efforts.
“The NBCUniversal Hispanic Group has virtually fulfilled its inventory and revenue goals for the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” said Laura Molen, executive VP, Lifestyle and Hispanic Advertising Sales at NBCUniversal. “Acknowledging that our clients continue to look for ways to partner with the program, we will continue to develop additional opportunities for advertisers to be a part of the games throughout the entire tournament.”
Sources said Telemundo was looking to sell more than $200 million in ad revenue. The auto and beverage categories were strong, as were movie studios and technology category.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of its ads, Telemundo is offering advertisers studies from Horowitz and Telemundo’s MiTelemundo community, cross platform and digital studies from Millward Brown and biometric neuro studies from Spark Neuro.
NBCU will be airing some of the Spanish-language World Cup games on NBCSN.
Telemundo plans to support its broadcast with a range of digital content, platforms and partnership.
It launched a Telemundo Deportes VR App that will let viewers watch all 64 games via virtual reality technology.
Real-time musical GIFs will be available via a partnership with Gifnote and the Telemundo Deportes app will feature a custom emoji keyboard.
A Goal! Shootout game will be released for the Instant games platform on Messenger and Facebook.
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.