Fox’s $200 million World Cup gamble

Tuesday’s dismal defeat at the hands of Trinidad and Tobago, meant that the United States Men’s National Team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Whilst the poor performances of Bruce Arena’s side will have caused widespread disappointment amongst US Soccer fans, the devastation will be elevated for executives at 21st Century Fox, who recently parted with $200 million to show the tournament.

Fox outbid ESPN for the English-broadcast rights to the tournament in 2015, paying a combined $400 million to broadcast both the 2018 and the 2022 tournaments.

For Fox, the main source of group stage interest in the tournament, came from the the three USMNT games that would have been broadcast on the network, instead at Russia 2018, the network will have to find alternative ways to attract US fans to the tournament.

Whilst interest in Russia 2018 will still be high, Fox had previously anticipated that the tournament would be the biggest production in the broadcaster’s history, however,  now the initial $200 million paid by Fox appears to an overvaluation of the tournament’s worth.

Despite only anticipating it would bring in $17 million From ad revenue for the Women’s World Cup in 2015, Fox netted an estimated $40 Million, a figure it would have hoped to have built on for the coming men’s tournament in Russia. However, that now seems unlikely.

From a USMNT perspective, Russia 2018 was touted to be a historic tournament, not only was it a final curtain call for the likes of Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard, it would also provide the first opportunity for America’s new icon, Christian Pulisic to showcase his talent on international football’s biggest stage.

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