The opening match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is a mere 80 days away, and Fox Sports has about 75% of its advertising inventory sold, with still many opportunities for marketers not yet onboard.
Fox Sports will televise all 52 games in the tournament from six cities across Canada between June 6 and July 5 on Fox broadcast network, and Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 cable networks. That includes the most Women’s World Cup matches ever televised on a broadcast network—16, including one semifinal matchup, the third-place game on July 4 and the championship final on July 5. It will also be the first time since 2003 that any FIFA Women’s World Cup matches are televised on a broadcast network in the U.S.
Fox Sports is selling commercial time in the TV game telecasts, including limited on-screen sponsorships, but is also offering marketers numerous other ways to sponsor the month-long Cup, including digital opportunities for all the matches that will be streamed online via FoxSportsGo.com and sponsorships on the Fox Sports Go app. Fox is also planning to organize Women’s World Cup viewing parties in conjunction with the U.S. Soccer Federation in assorted cities throughout the country and will sell sponsorship opportunities there as well.
After winning the English-language rights to televise both the men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups through 2026 in the U.S., Fox is making an unprecedented broadcast commitment to the Women’s World Cup by televising 16 games. ABC last broadcast FIFA Women’s World Cup matches in 2003, when it aired three. And from 1995-2003, when ESPN/ABC held the U.S. TV rights, ABC aired a total of seven Women’s World Cup matches in three tournaments.
“We are doing things differently than ESPN and ABC by televising the Women’s World Cup games in an unprecedented number of broadcast TV windows,” says Neil Mulcahy, executive VP sales, Fox Sports Media Group. “We are embracing the Women’s World Cup for the major worldwide event that it is and in addition to our TV and online coverage, we plan on making it the largest social media sporting event ever. We have many opportunities for advertisers in social media and many advertisers have welcomed that.”
Fox has been selling Women’s World Cup ad inventory since September and has been making presentations to marketers and their agencies to talk about the TV audience that the matches draw.
“The Women’s World Cup audience is similar to the Men’s World Cup in that it draws about 65% men and 35% women to the telecasts,” Mulcahy says. “And the viewership touches all the hot buttons for advertisers. The demos include younger, higher educated, more tech-savvy viewers than most sports and the telecasts also draw large numbers of Hispanic viewers.”
While Telemundo has the Spanish-language TV rights in the U.S. for the Women’s World Cup telecasts, Mulcahy believes lots of bilingual Hispanics will be watching on Fox, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.
In its presentation to marketers, Fox uses Nielsen demographic data to define how past Women’s World Cup viewers differ from the average TV audience. The data finds that 47.7% of Women’s World Cup viewers earn $100,000 or more, compared to 19% of the average TV audience, and 12% of Cup viewers earn over $150,000.
The presentation also points out that 47.7% of Women’s World Cup viewers have four-plus years of college, compared to 22.9% of the average TV audience. The median age audience of the Women’s World Cup viewer is 42, compared to 46 for the average TV viewer, and the median income of the Women’s World Cup viewer is $77,800 compared to $47,700 for the average TV viewer.
The Nielsen data Fox offers in its presentation also points out that 15.3% of U.S. adults 25-54 watch the Cup matches with their children, which is a higher number than for the Summer Olympics (14.1%), NFL games (12.5%), Winter Olympics (12%), NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (9.9%) and Major League Baseball (9.4%).
Mike Petruzzi, executive VP, ad sales, who has been overseeing sales of the Women’s World Cup telecasts and related programming, says advertisers include many current marketers running commercials in Fox Sports 1’s Champions League and MLS soccer telecasts, U.S. Soccer Federation and FIFA partners, along with Fox Sports advertisers who are in other televised sports on Fox, including MLB and the NFL.
Petruzzi says advertising is being sold in packages and that advertisers cannot just buy ad time on the Fox broadcast network telecasts. He says there will be six commercial breaks surrounding each of the 52 game telecasts that are priced differently depending on the round of the tournament. One commercial break will air at the beginning of the game telecast, there will be three commercial breaks during halftime, and two following the end of the game.
Petruzzi says advertisers can buy onscreen logos, such as the game clock, but those buys are only available to FIFA partners. Ads are also being sold throughout all of the 200 live hours of studio shows, that will include pregame, postgame and bridge show coverage, as well as the World Cup Tonight studio show that will air each night throughout the tournament.
The Women’s World Cup broke social media records in 2011 and at the end of the championship game in which Japan defeated the U.S. in a shootout, Twitter was lit up with 7,196 tweets per second, at the time the most social moment in Twitter history. That record no longer stands, but Fox is hoping that the upcoming Women’s World Cup telecasts will create some new social media records.
Even though Fox did not televise the 2014 Men’s World Cup, buzz around the matches helped the Fox Soccer site to its best month ever with nearly 10 million unique visitors across all devices in June 2014. So Fox is also projecting a huge surge in visitors to its foxsports.com site.
Fox Sports is planning to create interactions across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram through polls, behind-the-scenes photos, real time content, highlights and takeovers by athletes and is selling social media brand integrations.
Fox Sports will also partner with two advertisers on a World Cup-themed app that it plans to launch, which will include video highlights, breaking news and stats surrounding the Cup.
Fox Sports Go, the Fox Sports version of TV Everywhere, will also offer sponsorship branding opportunities in its streaming.
David Neal is the executive producer of Fox’s World Cup coverage. He produced coverage of nine Olympics while at NBC and won 34 sports Emmy Awards. Mulcahy says Neal’s team will be producing some 60 vignettes focusing on women’s Cup athletes from every participating country, which will air during Cup coverage. “It will very much be like the Olympic model of coverage and we will also be able to advertise integrations within those vignettes,” Mulcahy says.
Fox Sports will also embed and chronicle the U.S. team’s journey through the World Cup tournament, which will be presented as part of a 90-minute documentary to premiere on the night of the tournament’s semifinal match.
And Fox Sports 1 will televise an exhibition soccer match between the U.S. Women’s team and Ireland on Mother’s Day, May 10, and Petruzzi says there will be some advertiser stunts related to that telecast.
Mulcahy says there will also be music opportunities for advertisers throughout the tournament telecasts, but he did not offer any specifics.
The most-watched FIFA World Cup match in the U.S. was the 1999 Final between the U.S. and China on ABC, which drew 18 million viewers. The Japan-U.S. final on ESPN in 2011 was the second most watched, with 13.5 million viewers. The others in the Top 5 averaged between 2.5 million and 3.9 million, with two on ESPN and the other on ABC. All involved the U.S. team.
The 2012 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gold Medal match on NBC Sports Network drew 4.35 million viewers.
If the U.S. advances to the finals, Fox will be primed to challenge that record 18 million viewers.
Mulcahy is hoping that some of the deals it is doing for the Women’s World Cup will also be extended to year-round deals for Fox Sports’ men’s soccer coverage, as well as for future World Cup tournaments.