Facebook, Twitter and Snap seek rights to World Cup highlights

Social networks offer Fox tens of millions of dollars for online rights

Germany celebrate winning the World Cup in 2014.

Germany celebrate winning the World Cup in 2014.

 

Facebook, Twitter and Snap are seeking online rights to video highlights from next year’s World Cup, soccer’s most popular tournament, according to sources.

The companies have offered 21st Century Fox tens of millions of dollars for rights to highlights from the Russia-hosted games that air in the United States, according to sources. Fox has not decided whether to sell exclusive rights to one buyer or to spread them around.

Social media’s growing interest in video, including sports, gives Fox a potentially significant new revenue source for the games as well as a tool to promote its coverage. Fox holds US rights to the quadrennial event, and will air games on broadcast and cable television. The company paid a reported $400 million (€350 million) for multiyear World Cup rights.

Attractive target

The World Cup is an attractive target for social-media companies eager to exhibit more premium video and attract advertisers. 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. The competition reached a global television audience of 3.2 billion people, according to Fifa and Kantar Media. With many of next year’s games at odd hours because of the time difference in Russia, highlights may be in greater demand.

The four companies declined to comment on talks, which also could include other parties. Alphabet’s YouTube offers highlights and historic games from the US National Football League (NFL), while Amazon. com acquired the rights to show a handful of NFL games in the upcoming season. Verizon Communications holds mobile rights to the NFL.

Facebook and Twitter hosted very little video during the last World Cup, which aired on Walt Disney’s ESPN in the US. Snap was just beginning to expand from video-messaging to hosting more professionally produced video. The company created a video, called a live story, of user-generated footage from the World Cup final.

Fox Sports, which acquired the rights to the 2018 World Cup six years ago, has all but abandoned traditional news and highlights programming in favour of talk shows hosted by opinionated analysts. Highlight shows have become less valuable to broadcasters, and less interesting to viewers, in an era when most can catch the latest clips via social-media feeds on their mobile phones. – (Bloomberg)