According to Bloomberg, Facebook, Twitter and Snap are seeking online rights to video highlights from next year’s FIFA World Cup from FOX.
The companies have offered 21st Century Fox Inc. millions of dollars for the highlights for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Fox hasn’t decided whether to sell exclusive rights to one buyer or to spread them around.
For FOX this decision has it pros and cons. On the one hand, this can represent a significant new revenue source while also promoting its coverage. On the other, there is a risk of sending sponsors and viewers in the direction of social media companies that already dominate online advertising.
Social media companies have increasingly looked into streaming more video, especially in the sports realm, and the World Cup is definitely an attractive event. The 2014 World Cup Final was viewed by more than 25 million people in the US, the most-watched soccer match in the country’s history. With many of next year’s games at odd hours because of the time difference in Russia, highlights may be in greater demand.
Sports is a major priority given its large audiences and fans’ desire to converse online as events occur. Facebook just reached a deal with Fox to carry some of the broadcaster’s coverage of the Champions League, the annual European soccer tournament. Snap has struck deals for sports highlights including the 2016 Olympics. Twitter streamed several live NFL games last season.
Live sports have been the TV industry’s strongest bulwark against steady decline in live viewership. Fans of football and basketball tend not to watch games on-demand, which has enabled TV networks to sell advertisements for sporting events at higher and higher prices.
Thus the contradiction and dilemma for FOX, who have to consider both sides of the equation and determine if the additional revenue is worth the risk.