Fox Sports Strikes a Digital Deal With AOL

AOL will host network's online originals, game highlights

Further expanding its sports coverage, AOL today unveiled a multi-year video content partnership with Fox Sports.

The new deal includes original Fox Sports digital properties like @TheBuzzer and Garbage Time, game highlights and the potential for co-produced content around tentpole sporting events, including the Olympics and the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.

"We're really identifying this idea of platinum partnerships and establishing business development relationships," said Dermot McCormack, AOL's president of video, who added, "Sports is something we can bring a unique package of assets to the table for."

Fox Sports holds the rights to games from the NFL, Major League Baseball, college football, UFC, NASCAR, World Cup soccer and UEFA Champions League. It's also the U.S. rights holder for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, which will take place from June 6 through July 5 in Canada. Meanwhile, AOL has been expanding its sports presence through publisher partnerships, including one with The Players' Tribune.

McCormack sees many possibilities for the new partnership. For example, with the FIFA Women's World Cup, he envisions in-depth interviews with the U.S. team members and documentaries about the challenges facing the sport.

"It could show off their programming around the sport—the strong digital coverage and footprint from the people at Fox Sports—but we could creatively work together to tell the stories around sports," McCormack said.

Fox Sports has forged many partnerships with online media, including a recent one with Sporting News Network. Fox Sports Digital vp of business development Ben Maggin said that while the network voraciously seeks syndication partners, alignment on key criteria is crucial. In the case of AOL, Fox Sports liked the monetization options on its platform as well as AOL's assurance that the network would retain control of advertising deals.

"We don't want to be on all platforms," Maggin said. "We do believe in the power of off-network. It's a key way to reach consumers on a whole bunch of different areas of content and allow advertisers to reach whoever consumes that content hyper-aggressively."

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