ESPN will be shut out of the World Cup until 2030, at the earliest. FIFA announced that U.S. English-language TV rights for the 2026 World Cup will go to Fox Sports without opening it up to a bidding process.
A few thoughts…
* This is odd. It’s not immediately clear what the reasoning is. A plausible explanation would be FIFA trying to placate potential FOX concerns about moving the 2022 tournament. FOX paid a hefty rights fee for a huge programming event during the summer, not one that would compete with or undercut its NFL and College Football packages.
* The 2026 World Cup T.V. rights in the U.S. could end up being quite lucrative. With Europe and Asia blocked from submitting bids, the U.S. will be the odds on favorite to host that tournament. The only probable rivals will be Canada, Mexico and Colombia.
* U.S. Soccer fans will have strong opinions about this. While FOX has made smart hires, such as Alexi Lalas, and has an extensive history televising the sport for an American audience, efforts to Americanize the coverage of International soccer have been grating and tone deaf for fans. Hopefully, the next few years will be enough time to deaden the “put Piers Morgan on TV” type impulses.