In 2011, Fox Sports Media Group secured the exclusive U.S. English-language rights to broadcast the FIFA World Cup, outbidding incumbent ESPN and other interested parties.
The impact of that deal kicks in next month when Fox Sports will cover the FIFA Women's World Cup, taking place in six cities across Canada between June 6 and July 5.
The deal with FIFA, which initially covered World Cups through 2022 — 2018 Men's World Cup in Russia and 2022 Men's World Cup in Qatar, as well as the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups and other FIFA events — last May was extend by FIFA through the 2026 Men's World Cup.
Fox Sports paid some $425 million for the initial deal, according to industry analysts,
NBCUniversal’s Telemundo paid $600 million for the U.S. Spanish TV rights.
In Germany in 2011, Japan defeated the U.S. for the Women's title. That game on ESPN attracted more than 13.4 million viewers in the U.S., second only to the 17.9 million who viewed the 1999 Women's World Cup final between the U.S. and China, according to ESPN.
Those numbers are strong when compared to the Men's World Cup. The 2010 Men’s World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain on ESPN sibling ABC was watched by 15.6 million, and the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina was seen on ABC by 17.3 million people.
That is exactly what networks and marketing partners for the U.S. Women's National Team want to hear.
Fox Sports said it plans the "most expansive and comprehensive multi-platform coverage ever" of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, including 16 matches airing live on the Fox broadcast network (Fox, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2. All games will also be available on tablets and mobile devices via the Fox Sports GO app and online at FoxSportsGo.com.
That gives plenty of space and airtime for official U.S. Soccer marketing partners to activate. That list includes AT&T, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), Century 21, Chevrolet, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Continental Tire, Coppertone, Degree, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual, Marriott, Mondelez and Nike.
Also expect to see multi-media marketing from official FIFA global partners such as adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundia-Kia Motors and Visa.
Among other plans, FIFA is working with its partners to create on-site Fan Zones in all six official host cities: Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg, site of the Finals.
A number of team members also have their own portfolio of marketing partners, led by Hope
Solo, Kelley O'Hara, Christie Rampone, Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan.
Mondelez, the official snacks partner for U.S. Soccer, launched in conjunction with the 2014 Men's World Cup a #PassTheLove campaign using its products and media assets to encourage fans to send message of support. Mondelez has expand that effort for the Women's World Cup using Morgan as a spokesperson.
According to Stephen Chriss, senior director, North America consumer engagement and marketing services for Mondelez International, “Our #PassTheLove campaign proves the power of soccer to help our brands score with consumers, and we plan to make this year even bigger.”
Nike will support with a "No Maybe's" campaign, which Martin Lotti, the company's global creative director for soccer, told Bloomberg, "We truly see as a great opportunity for the women's business."
Seeking its first Women's World Cup title since 1999, the U.S. Women's National Team will face Australia, Sweden and Nigeria in Group D opening round.
Fox Sports has launched national marketing, tapping into all of its assets. Earlier this month, for example, Morgan, Wambach and Christen Press were seen as animated characters in an episode of "The Simpsons."
According to Robert Gottlieb, executive vice president, Marketing, Fox Sports, “The Women’s World Cup is going to be a truly cultural event in the U.S. beginning next month, and this partnership with 'The Simpsons' and Gracie Films is one of several examples of how elements of 21st Century Fox have worked together in creative ways to promote this huge tournament.”