Fox Sports and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo shocked the soccer world Friday (10/21) by outbidding ESPN and Univision for the US broadcast rights to the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. Bid details were not immediately known, but the previous package of the 2010 and 2014 World Cup rights cost ESPN/Univision $425 million.
The Spanish side is the larger side of the equation in the US. For the 2010 and 2014 package Univision paid $325 million for the Spanish rights and ESPN $100 million for the English rights. No doubt the Telemundo/Fox Sports price tag falls mainly on Telemundo as well.
“We made a disciplined bid that would have been both valuable to FIFA and profitable for our company, while continuing to grow our unprecedented coverage of the World Cup and Women’s World Cup events. We were aggressive while remaining prudent from a business perspective,” said a statement from ESPN confirming that it had lost the bidding.
“ESPN remains committed to presenting the sport of soccer at the highest level across our platforms with coverage of the UEFA European Football Championship, English Premier League, La Liga, MLS and other top leagues and tournaments, including the 2014 World Cup in Brazil,” it added.
The surprising outcome of this week’s bidding in Zurich, Switzerland was first reported by Sports Business Daily. The publication reported that first round bids were submitted Wednesday, with second round bids on Thursday leading to the new US rights outcome.
RBR-TVBR observation: The bigger shocker is on the Spanish rights side. Univision has used the World Cup for many years to establish itself as the undisputed sports leader in US Spanish-language sports. Losing the premier soccer event to arch rival Telemundo really changes the landscape – and will have a big impact on Univision ad revenues in coming World Cup years. But first it still gets to air the matches and sell the advertising in 2014.