The U.S. media market is in the midst of an international soccer boom, and Fox Sports is the latest player to bulk up its fútbol arsenal, having inked a six-year deal for the stateside rights to the South American league CONMEBOL.
Among the properties Fox scooped up include the month-long 2021 Copa América tournament, which kicks off on June 13, as well as the federation’s FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers and the 2024 Olympics qualifiers.
The 2019 Copa América final, in which Brazil topped Peru 3-1, averaged 3.1 million viewers on Telemundo, making it the most-watched title match since 2007. Those numbers were particularly impressive, given that the match practically doubled the deliveries of its lead-in broadcast, the Spanish-language simulcast of the U.S. women’s team 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the 2019 World Cup final.
The Fox-CONMEBOL deal comes on the heels of a recent soccer spree by ViacomCBS, which last month scooped up the rights to the Italian league Serie A and a suite of Concacaf events. In March, CBS’ sports unit acquired the exclusive English-language rights Argentina’s Liga Profesional de Fútbol.
Terms of the Fox Sports deal were not disclosed.
While ViacomCBS is positioning its soccer buys as a means to drive subscriptions to the OTT service Paramount+, Fox Sports plans to air the bulk of its CONMEBOL matches on its FS1 cable network. Naturally, some of the higher-profile matches are expected to find their way to the company’s broadcast flagship.
“CONMEBOL is the perfect addition to our elite slate of international soccer properties,” said Mark Silverman, president of Fox Sports national networks, by way of announcing the deal. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to grow the game in the U.S. by showcasing some of the best men’s and women’s teams and players from around the world as they suit up for top international competition.”
Bringing CONMEBOL into the fold will give Fox Sports the opportunity to showcase some of soccer’s most recognizable global superstars, many of whom hail from South America. Among the top international players active today are Argentina’s Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Brazil’s Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain).
A six-time Ballon d’Or winner, the 33-year-old Messi has said that winning the elusive Copa América crown for his native country would be one of the highlights of his storied career. It presumably would also go a long way toward driving a big audience to Fox/FS1.