Soccer fans in America will be flipping channels when the 2018 and 2022 World Cups roll around.
The Sports Business Journal and SI.com report that FIFA has awarded Fox and Telemundo the English- and Spanish-language television rights to the tournaments that will be held in Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022). The Fox package is said to also include the Women's World Cup as well as the Under-20 and Under-17 championships.
ESPN and Univisión currently lay claim to the television rights of both the 2010 and 2014 editions of the World Cup and also made bids for the 2018 and 2022 package.
MLS matches currently air on Fox, ESPN and Univisión networks. NBC earlier this year secured a package of matches and will begin broadcasting MLS matches next year.
The networks in the running for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup television rights submitted their bids on Wednesday in Zürich, Switzerland, and FIFA requested the bidders resubmit new bids on Thursday. Reports indicate that FIFA will make a formal announcement later Friday or early next week.
ESPN issued the following statement in response to the news: “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.
“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.”