Despite the U.S. team not making the field, Fox Sports is going big with its coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and planning to show 38 live matches on broadcast television.
Fox said that its 38 live matches on broadcast TV is a first in English-language TV history, and that the total makes up more than the last four World Cups combined.
“The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is not only the summer’s biggest sporting event, but Fox Sports’ largest production in our 24-year history. Our programming team has done a terrific job curating a schedule fit for an event of this magnitude, showcasing thrilling matchups on both FOX and FS1, including more matches than ever before on broadcast television,” said Fox Sports Executive Producer David Neal in a statement.
FS1 will also air 26 matches, which will all take place between June 14 and July 15. The matches will also be available for livestreaming through the Fox Sports GO app and the Fox Soccer Match Pass.
In 2011, Fox and Telemundo won the U.S. rights for the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cups for a combined $1 billion. That total was more than double the $425,000 that ESPN and Univision paid together for the U.S. rights to the 2010 and 2014 men’s World Cups—and of that total, ESPN paid $100 million.
With that hefty price tag in mind, there was some concern that the deal didn’t quite pan out for Fox after the U.S. Men’s National team failed to qualify. It’s unclear how significant of an impact the absence of the U.S. will have on overall ratings for the tournament. In 2014, the 64 matches aired on ESPN averaged 4.5 million viewers in the U.S. The World Cup finals match, which aired on ABC, pulled in 17.3 million viewers.
But Fox Sports is clearly confident in the event and is pushing a large amount of the games out to a national audience.