Less than three years after agreeing to pay more than $US400 million for the broadcast rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, FOX may now be having second-thoughts after a FIFA executive said the 2022 World Cup will be played in the middle of the NFL season.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke stated during a radio interview that the 2022 World Cup, to be held in Qatar, will be moved to the Fall (via NYTimes.com). “The dates of the World Cup will not be in June or July,” said Valcke. “I think it will be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest.”
The concern is over the weather in Qatar, where the average high temperature is 106 degrees in July. According to the report, FIFA later backtracked, releasing a statement that said a final decision has not yet been made.
While this would conflict with many soccer leagues around the world, it is easy to imagine that FOX will be hurt the most if the tournament is moved.
In 2011, FOX outbid ESPN for the English-language broadcast rights, agreeing to pay more than $US400 million for the two tournaments. Meanwhile, FOX also currently pays about $1.1 billion per year for the rights to broadcast NFL games and also broadcasts college football games on Saturdays.
While weekday games would not conflict, FOX would be forced to move the World Cup games to secondary networks on the weekends, including the final, which is typically held on a Sunday.
It is unclear at this point if there are provisions built into FOX’s contract with FIFA. But even if there are reparations for the network, it won’t make up for the potential loss of ratings that only come around once every four years.
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