Before the first ball is rolled out and their initial telecasts delivered, Fox Sports and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo have secured a new cycle of media rights from FIFA, culminating with the 2026 World Cup.
The extensions place the world’s most popular sporting event at the feet of programmers, who will kick off their first round of FIFA action this year with the Women’s World Cup from Canada and youth competitions. Fox and Telemundo unseated the previous rights-holders, ESPN and Univision, which televised the 2014 World Cup from Brazil that set TV and digital records here in the States. Fox and Telemundo paid $400 million and $600 million, respectively, to FIFA for multimedia rights from 2015 through 2022.
Deal terms for the new FIFA cycle were not disclosed, but the prospects are that the 2026 men’s tourney may play out on U.S. soil -- and play to real-time, home screen advantages to the rightsholders. Some are suggesting that the awarding of Fox and Telemundo to another round of FIFA rights signals that the 2022 competition from Qatar will be moved from the oppressive heat of the desert summer into a winter time frame, when the tourney will vie against American football, and the basketball and hockey seasons for sports' eyeballs.
The addition of the 2023-26 FIFA cycle by Fox and Telemundo is reminiscent of moves NBC has made over the years whereby it has gained more Olympic rights, without competition from other media companies. Under former sports boss Dick Ebersol, NBC acquired the rights to the 2004, 2006 and 2008 Games. Last spring, Comcast’s programming arm NBCUniversal reached a new multiplatform deal with the International Olympic Committee for rights from 2021 through the Winter Games in 2032, also sans a bidding process.
The 2026 FIFA World Cup aside, the extensions cover the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 and 2025, FIFA U-17 World Cup 2023 and 2025, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2023 and 2025, FIFA Futsal World Cup 2024, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2024 and 2026, FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2024 and 2026, and FIFA Confederations Cup 2025.
“These agreements guarantee wide distribution for FIFA tournaments across the US and Canada. Together, we will be able to further promote football in North America and build on the impressive interest shown by audiences in these major territories during the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” said FIFA director of TV Niclas Ericson.
Fox offered these comments: “We are truly honored that FIFA has elected to extend FOX Sports’ rights to the portfolio of FIFA events including the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup through 2026. These events are some of the world’s most important sports competitions, and it is our privilege to be entrusted with these rights in the United States. We’re looking forward to the kick-off of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in June with great anticipation.”
“We’re very pleased that FIFA allowed us to extend our deal as the exclusive U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster of FIFA World Cup tournaments through 2026,” said Joe Uva, NBCUniversal's chairman of Hispanic Enterprises and Content. “This unprecedented agreement gives our Telemundo and NBCUniversal viewers and digital consumers more of the world’s best soccer for the next 12 years."
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