With the English Premier League and Champions League finals and the looming FIFA World Cup, soccer is on more American minds than usual at the moment. Good time for Major League Soccer to make some sports page headlines with its new TV rights package. The U.S. pro league has inked eight-year deals with ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision that run from 2015-22, with the nets combining to air 125-plus MLS matches each season. The league and the partners didn’t disclose financial terms, but Sports Business Daily reports that Fox Sports and ESPN are paying a combined $75 million a year, with Univision chipping in $15 million per, for a total of $720 million over the life of the deal. That’s five times higher than the average annual value of the 18-year-old league’s current media deals, SBD said. League Commissioner Don Garber called it “the most comprehensive U.S. media rights partnership in the history of soccer in our country.” Each net will feature an MLS Match of the Week, with a Friday night game on Univision and ESPN and Fox Sports 1 airing back-to-back Sunday matches at 5 and 7 PM ET. With MLS’ regular season running from March to October, there will be nearly two months of Sunday overlap with that little upstart league called …
As a record number of folks watched Super Bowl XLVIII on TV yesterday, an average of 528,000 per minute live streamed the game on Fox Sports. That makes the Seahawks’ pummeling of the Broncos the most-viewed live stream of a single U.S. sporting ever, beating last year’s Big Game by 4%. Despite the blowout score, it more than doubled the online viewership for the thrilling NCAA football championship game last month. NBCUniversal likely is applauding those numbers as it prepares to live stream every event — more than 1,000 hours worth — at the Sochi Winter Games, which kick off this week.
Fox Sports‘ Terry Bradshaw will miss today’s Super Bowl following the death of his father, William Marvin Bradshaw, on Thursday. The network has adjusted its lineup with Michael Strahan moving from red carpet duty to take Bradshaw’s position in the pre-game show along with coverage of the post-game trophy presentation. Chris Myers will take Strahan’s place on the red carpet alongside Charissa Thompson. “On behalf of everyone at FOX Sports, we want to extend our deepest sympathy to Terry, his mother Novis, brothers Gary and Craig and the entire Bradshaw family. All are in our thoughts and prayers today, and we respect their wishes for privacy during this very difficult time. Terry is with his mother and family in Louisiana, and understandably will not appear on FOX Sports’ coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII today,” said the network in a statement issued this morning.
Fox Sports has re-upped its exclusive media rights in the U.S. and Caribbean to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for three additional seasons from 2015-16 through 2017-18, the network said today. FOX Sports has been the English and Spanish language rights holder in the U.S. and Caribbean for the Champions League since the 2009-10 season and Europa League since 2012-13. The new agreement with UEFA ensures coverage of both tournaments on multiple channels and platforms including FOX Sports, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, FOX Deportes, FOX Sports Regional Networks and FOX Soccer Plus.
From today’s announcement:
Going on three months after the ballyhooed launch of Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports has solidified its management team. David Nathanson has been upped to the newly created post of General Manager and COO at Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, and Bill Wanger has added Content Strategy to his title as EVP Programming and Research at Fox Sports. Three others also are moving up. Here’s the release:
Los Angeles – In a reorganization of FOX Sports’ executive management structure, veteran executives David Nathanson and Bill Wanger have assumed new responsibilities, effective immediately. Nathanson has been appointed General Manager & Chief Operating Officer, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2, a newly created position, while Wanger, FOX Sports’ Executive Vice President, Programming & Research is now Executive Vice President, Programming, Research & Content Strategy. The announcement was made today by FOX Sports President, Chief Operating Officer & Executive Producer Eric Shanks, to whom both Nathanson and Wanger report.
Reporting to Nathanson, as the senior management team guiding both national sports channels, are 19-year FOX Sports veterans Scott Ackerson, who becomes Executive Vice President, News; George Greenberg, whose title is now Executive Vice President, Content Integration & Presentation; and Michael Bloom, who remains FOX Sports’ Senior Vice President, Original Programming.
Right up there with death and taxes on the inevitability scale is an enormous TV rating for the NFL‘s annual championship game. Advertisers, of course, are hip to that — and Fox announced today that its ad inventory for Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2 is completely sold out, nearly two months before the Big Game. Sponsors are shelling out an average of $4M for a 30-second chunk of the prime airtime during the game — one of the few remaining events most TV viewers watch (gasp!) live. Some late spots scooped $4.5M. By contrast, CBS didn’t announce an ad sellout for its 2013 Super Bowl until January 10, when 30 seconds was averaging $3.7M-$3.8M. Fox Sports Media Group EVP Sales Neal Mulcahy wouldn’t divulge exactly who bought which spots for the game, but he noted that there’s still some ad time available during the postgame and endless pregame programming.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Susanne Bier’s ‘A Second Chance’ Adds Three; Fox Sports 2 Coming To Italy; More
Three Added To Cast Of Susanne Bier’s ‘A Second Chance’
Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Maria Bonnevie and Ulrich Thomsen have joined the cast of Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau stars in the film, which focuses on how far decent human beings are willing to go when tragedy blurs the line between the just and unjust. Shooting is underway in Denmark. Lie Kaas stars in the current No. 1 film at the Danish box office, The Keeper Of Lost Causes. He’s next up in Child 44. Thomsen, from Cinemax’s Banshee, has previously worked with Bier in Brothers and A Better World. Swedish-Norwegian actress Maria Bonnevie’s recently starred in Belle Du Seigneur with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Marianne Faithful. TrustNordisk kicked off international sales on the Danish-language A Second Chance during the AFM.
With the popularity of global soccer increasing in the States, and as next summer’s World Cup in Brazil approaches, 21st Century Fox is adding to its international rights portfolio. The group has partnered with the Deutsche Fussball Liga to deliver soccer to millions of fans in 80 territories on four continents, including North America. In North and South America and Asia, the new agreements are for five years; in Europe, they’ll last two years. Financial terms were not disclosed. Matches will be shown across Fox International Channels, Fox Sports and Sky Italia. The deals kick off with the 2015-16 season for all 306 Bundesliga matches per year. The Bundesliga is one of the premiere soccer leagues in the world with one of the best known teams in Bayern Munich, whose players include France’s Frank Ribéry and Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger. Fox is deep into soccer around the world with notable recent deals including BSkyB‘s £2.28B spend on rights to 116 English Premiere League matches for three seasons beginning this year, and Fox Sports’ record $425M for U.S. broadcast rights to the 2018-2022 World Cup package.
The 2022 soccer World Cup is to be played in Qatar beginning in June that year and FIFA is discussing a proposal to shift the games due to extremely high temperatures — as much as 122° Fahrenheit — that could adversely affect players. Last month, Fox Sports had balked at a potential move. It paid a record $425M for U.S. broadcast rights to the 2018-2022 World Cup package and is concerned that moving the competition would clash with its broadcast of NFL games. After a meeting in Zurich, FIFA said today that its executive committee would work with the main World Cup stakeholders including leagues, clubs, players and business partners who hold media rights, to determine a course of action. But FIFA said no decision will be forthcoming until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next summer. The English Premier League also opposes a date change since it would force European soccer timetables to shift. The national World Cup teams are made up of players who, in many cases, make their daily living with clubs outside their home countries.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Fox Sports Challenging World Cup Date?; Jailed Filmmaker In Hunger Strike In Egypt; More
Fox Sports Opposes Proposed Move Of 2022 World Cup Dates
Fox Sports is reportedly balking at a potential move by World Cup soccer governing body FIFA to switch the dates of the 2022 championships in Qatar. Fox paid a record $425M for U.S. broadcast rights to the 2018-2022 World Cup package and, according to Bloomberg sources, is concerned that moving the competition would clash with NFL games. FIFA is discussing a proposal to shift the Qatar games due to extremely high temperatures — as much as 122° Fahrenheit — in the Qatari summer that could adversely affect players. “FIFA has informed us that they are considering and voting on moving the 2022 World Cup,” Fox said in a statement to Bloomberg. “Fox Sports bought the World Cup rights with the understanding they would be in the summer as they have been since the 1930s.” FIFA responded, “The matter of the timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be discussed in various ad hoc committees as well as the FIFA Executive Committee, and until these meetings have taken place, FIFA is in no position to make any further comments.” Fox is not alone in its concerns. The English Premier League also opposes a date change since it would force changes to European soccer timetables as the national World Cup teams are made up of players who, in many cases, make their daily living with clubs outside their home countries.
Jailed Canadian Filmmaker And Colleague Begin Hunger Strike
Canadian filmmaker John Greyson, and Tarek Loubani, who have been held without charges in a Cairo jail for more than a month, have informed friends and supporters through their Egyptian lawyers that they have begun a hunger strike. Greyson and Loubani were en route to Gaza when they stopped to ask directions from Egyptian police and were jailed. According to new emergency measures put in place in Egypt. Greyson and Loubani’s detention could be extended up to two years without formal charges.
SNL does it every week during station breaks. But when Fox Sports 1 cut into its in-studio feed during a Fox Football Daily commercial pause on Friday for some fly-on-the-wall color, cameras caught NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw dropping an f-bomb while joking with fellow commentator Jimmy Johnson. The network apologized today “to Terry and viewers” for the slip which was unplanned and caught without Bradshaw’s knowledge, adding “We are reviewing our procedures to make sure this does not happen again.”
Less than two weeks before the launch of its 24-hour national sports network, Fox Sports has swung a surprise deal for golf’s U.S. Open. The 12-year multimedia pact, which starts in 2015, marks the first time a PGA Tour major tournament will air on Fox. The pact announced today makes Fox Sports the domestic broadcast partner for the USGA and also includes rights to its Women’s U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open and national amateur championships. Financial terms of the agreement weren’t announced. NBC has been airing the U.S. Open’s Saturday and Sunday rounds since 1995, with ESPN showing the opening two rounds. The future looks dim for lightning-rod analyst Johnny Miller, who won the U.S. open 40 years ago and has been a big part of the event’s announcing team since NBC took over. “I feel bad for the USGA in a way that money was more important than basically a good golf crew,” he told the Associated Press. Under the deal, Fox Sports will deliver 146 hours of USGA golf, including a minimum of 70 hours of the U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open championships. Fox Sports 1, which goes live August 17, will be part of the coverage, but its role was not specified.
Under Fox International Channels, Fox Sports has increased its subscribers outside the U.S. from 17 million to more than 64 million in the past three years. The network has expanded in places like Japan, Brazil, Southeast Asia and the Netherlands. Next up is the August kickoff of Fox Sports Italy with a soccer-heavy roster that includes matches from the British Premiere League, Spain’s La Liga, the French League and the FA Cup alongside a slate of sports talk shows. In a separate but related report, The Guardian said this weekend that Fox is exploring a plan to create a summer soccer league featuring Europe’s top clubs with matches to be aired globally by the new 21st Century Fox’s broadcasters starting in 2015. The games would be played in Europe, Asia and the Americas with cities bidding to act as host, à la Formula 1 races, the report said, while warning the proposal is at its early stages. Top soccer sides have increasingly been exporting their brands on the global stage. This summer, the Guinness International Champions Cup will be played in the U.S. and Europe from July 27-August 7. Among the eight participating teams are Real Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus and Valencia. Those games are to be aired by Fox Soccer and Fox Sports.
NASCAR and Fox Sports have yet to reveal the cause of Sunday night’s accident in which a nylon camera rope fell onto the track and into the stands during the Coca-Cola 600. Ten attendees were injured with cuts and bruises and several cars damaged in the incident, which caused officials to temporarily halt the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway nearly a third of the way in. Use of the three-rope overhead camera system made by Austria-based CamCat has been suspended indefinitely, Fox said in a statement.
Read the entire lawsuit here. The plaintiff Jerry Davis alleges in a lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court that the Fox Sports Corporate Group currently employs 34 executives above the VP level – and not one of them is black. “Indeed, to the best of Mr. Davis’s knowledge, no Black person has ever held any position at or above vice president in that division’s entire 19-year existence. Representation of Black individuals in leadership positions in other sports divisions at FOX is, and always has been, similarly abysmal. During the course of its existence, Fox Sports, through its various divisions and entities, has intentionally maintained a practice of directly and indirectly favoring the hiring and/or promotion of non-Black and non-minority employees at senior levels without any legitimate reason. Mr. Davis is a direct victim of this discriminatory practice.”
Davis’ lawsuit describes himself as a 52-year-old African-American man, Berkeley grad, star athlete, and experienced music professional who was employed by Fox Sports for 15 1/2-years (from August 1997 to February 2013) as a director in the Fox Sports music department. During that time, the job over him, the Fox Sports VP Of Music position, became vacant four times. “However, despite his repeated and express interest in the position, his superior education, skills, and performance as well as strong support from senior-level colleagues of various Fox music departments and other …
The Fox Sports baseball analyst and announcer announced today that this October’s 2013 World Series will be his last. A former all-star MLB catcher, McCarver won two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals before he segued into broadcasting in 1980. During his network baseball run he called games for NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, where he’s shared duties with Joe Buck on MLB On Fox since 1996. “I’ve informed FOX Sports that I will not seek to extend my contract to broadcast baseball past the 2013 season”, he said in a statement, adding “it’s time to cut back”. McCarver’s nationally syndicated sports talk show is in its 12th season.
News Corp has made it official. Its national cable sports channel will kick off this summer with “nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news ad original programming annually.” By taking over the Speed channel, it will reach about 90M homes which the company says makes it “the biggest sports cable network launch in history, and one of the largest network launches ever.” At the start the schedule will include college basketball and football, NASCAR, soccer and UFC. In 2014 it will add Major League Baseball with 26 regular season games on Saturdays, select League Championship Series and Division Series games, and a live game-in-progress look-in show. FS1 plans a morning newscast to begin in January. Regis Philbin will host Rush Hour (weeknights from 5-6:00 PM ET), which will include a panel of regulars and guests. It will be followed by Fox Football Daily (daily 6-7:00 PM ET), described as an “extension of Fox NFL Sunday.” The network will air Fox Football Daily with news, interviews and commentary about pro and collegiate football. It also will challenge ESPN at 11:00 PM ET with a nightly talk show. Sports events will include a “double box” commercial format matching ads with programming designed to keep viewers engaged. The company also will introduce Fox Sports GO, a digital platform that will offer news, stats and analysis — as well as more than 1,000 live games and events — on the Internet and to Apple and Android devices. The live games will be available to pay TV subscribers.
What News Corp COO Chase Carey recently called the “world’s worst kept secret” – Fox’s still-unannounced plans to turn its Speed channel into a national general sports network called Fox Sports 1 — just became a little less mysterious. In response to a question on CNBC about reports that he’ll host a show on the new service, Regis Philbin said “all I can tell you is this: There’ll be a major announcement coming out next Tuesday.” Well, what do you know? The Fox Sports Media Group has an upfront presentation scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Anyone want to put odds on what Fox will announce? Sports Business Daily reported that Philbin was negotiating to lead a panel, much like Barbara Walters’ The View, that will focus on sports.
I don’t usually feel sorry for News Corp execs. But I came close to doing so this evening as COO Chase Carey on a conference call with analysts was forced to pretty much confirm the widely reported, although still officially unannounced, news that Fox plans to create one or two national sports networks. “I guess you could call it the world’s worst kept secret,” he said. CEO Rupert Murdoch wasn’t there to help. (He stopped appearing on the quarterly calls in mid-2011 when the company was barraged by questions about the UK hacking scandal.) Carey says that “sports is a huge arena that has room in it” for new services. “We can build businesses that capitalize on the other assets we own and we do think sports is an opportunity there.” He doesn’t believe that the failure of News Corp’s regional sports networks to land the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers will hurt. The amount that the Dodgers wanted, before deciding to launch a team-owned channel, “was too rich for our blood.” Even so, “we’ve got enough assets so we can have a vibrant Southern California business.” He declined to go into detail about the sports the company might offer on Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2 — the expected names for the services. “If we launch a channel it’ll be a channel that excites …