New advertisers are looking to get a leg up with soccer as Fox gets set to air the Women’s World Cup. Last summer, the men’s World Cup from Brazil set viewership and ad sales records for the beautiful game, which is growing in popularity in the U.S. Fox expects the growth to continue now that it has the rights to the FIFA tournaments, starting with the women’s event, which gets underway June 6 in Canada.
Mike Petruzzi, executive VP for Fox Sports, says the Women’s World Cup is 65%-70% sold out at this point and has already generated about three times the revenue it drew when it was on ESPN four years ago. Twenty advertisers are on board, including big partnerships with Nationwide Insurance and Chrysler’s Fiat brand.
According to Kantar Media, Men’s World Cup ad revenue jumped to $529 million in 2014, from $82 million in 2010. Women’s World Cup ad revenue was $5.8 million in 2011, according to Kantar.
Media buyers say Fox has done a good job selling the tournament. “I think it’s going to be a huge success this year. From a production standpoint, Fox knows how to put on a big event and they’ll promote it,” says Sam Sussman, senior VP/director at Starcom. “One of the big differences between men’s and women’s soccer in the U.S. is the woman’s team actually has a shot at winning it, so I think it will go a long way.”
Sussman says the World Cup will air when there’s a bit of a lull in the sports calendar. “I think it will have center stage and as long as the U.S. team does well it will be a success.”
During the tournament, Fox Sports will air 16 games on broadcast, 29 on Fox Sports 1 and seven on Fox Sports 2. All 52 games will be streamed via FoxSportsGo.com and the Fox Sports Go app.
Nationwide, which hadn’t been involved with soccer previously, will be the sponsor of Fox’s pregame coverage, a big deal because with soccer, there are very limited commercial breaks within the games.
Usually, soccer broadcasters have sponsors for the clock and scoreboard. FIFA rules limit who can purchase those to “official” sponsors, and Fox has not yet closed a deal with any of the FIFA official sponsors—Adidas, Coca-Cola, Kia/Hyundai and Visa.
Fox worked out an interesting deal with Fiat. Fox is producing food, travel and entertainment-oriented lifestyle content for Fiat that looks at all the activities around Vancouver while the tournament is being held there. “The soccer audience is great for them. It’s young, it’s upscale, it’s urban,” says Petruzzi. The content is hosted by injured player and Fox Sports analyst Stuart Holden. It will be cut down to air during World Cup Tonight studio programing. Longer versions will be available on Foxsports.com and it will be pushed out via other social and digital outlets. It will also be available on Fiat digital and social outlets.
Petruzzi wouldn’t say how much Nationwide or Fiat paid, but indicated that a good sized package during the World Cup costs in the mid-to high-seven figures.
Other advertisers include Buffalo Wild Wing, a big sports advertiser during winter and fall now moving into the summer months. Mondelez is supporting its U.S. soccer campaign targeting girls and moms. P&G has some of its male-targeted personal care brands in the mix and the movie category—which craves live events—has also been active, Petruzzi says.
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