Fox Sports' ad-sales team won't be showered with confetti today like the U.S. women's soccer team, which is getting a ticker-tape parade in New York following its championship. But the company is popping the bubbly all the same, thanks to its own World Cup coup.
Fox netted roughly $40 million from Women's World Cup ad sales, according to an industry source, a figure that more than doubled the company's initial revenue estimates for the tournament and is five times more than the $8 million ESPN raked in for its coverage of the 2011 Women's World Cup.
More than $12 million of Fox's revenue came from Sunday's final alone—25.4 million viewers tuned in to see the U.S. beat Japan 5-2, making it the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history. (Don't cry for ESPN, though. The network took home a whopping $529 million in revenue from last year's men's World Cup.)
The price of a 30-second ad for Sunday's final was $500,000, according to the source. That's similar to what ESPN charged for the 2014 men's final. All told, Fox's broadcast and cable channels had 50 advertisers for the Women's World Cup with the heaviest presence in theatrical, insurance and automotive categories.
"Certainly we've gone way beyond what we thought we would do," said Neil Mulcahy, evp of Fox Sports ad sales. "It's great when a plan comes together, and that's what happened. It's rare that everything works to exactly what you hoped and you planned to do, because a lot of times, you're changing your plan around."
The financial windfall is especially sweet for Fox given that it's already secured rights to the next five World Cups: the men's tournaments in 2018, 2022 and 2026, and the 2019 and 2023 Women's World Cup.
"We've set ourselves up for the marketplace in 2018 for the men's World Cup, and then having the Women's World Cup the following year, in 2019," said Mike Petruzzi, vp of Fox Sports ad sales. "It's a great runway for us to use the next three summers leading up to the men's World Cup, and then having consecutive years of back-to-back World Cup coverage, just for what we can do with FIFA partners and our general sports advertisers."
But Fox doesn't have to wait three years to benefit from this summer's soccer momentum. "We've seen it already," said Petruzzi, who also noted that Tuesday's U.S. men's Gold Cup match against Honduras was the ninth highest-rated soccer match in Fox Sports 1's history.
With the International Champions Cup on tap for July 11 through Aug. 5, as well as weekly Major League Soccer games, "we're heavily invested among international and domestic soccer from now through 2026, when our World Cup rights expire," he said.