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Fox Sports Set to Lose Millions After USMNT Fail to Qualify for 2018 World Cup

Fox Sports Set to Lose Millions After USMNT Fail to Qualify for 2018 World Cup

American soccer fans are devastated that the USMNT will not be playing in the 2018 World Cup. But at least the team’s humiliating failure won’t cost them money. In fact, if anything, it will actually save fans millions of dollars.

The same cannot be said for the folks at Fox Sports.

Fox paid $400 million for the English language rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Some industry experts have speculated that the network could lose up to $200 million in advertising revenue now that the United States has failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament. That figure is almost certainly a little inflated, seeing as how the ratings in the U.S. aren’t going to drop down to zero. However, a nine-figure loss is certainly within the realm of possibility.

“The World Cup is still the greatest sporting event on earth,” Fox Sports president Eric Shanks told Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl just last week, “but clearly for us it’s a different tournament if the U.S. isn’t in it.” Interestingly, Telemundo actually paid $600 million, or %50 more than Fox, for the Spanish language television rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. They, too, will see some losses in advertising revenue now that the United States is out. However, Telemundo’s bread and butter is obviously Mexico, which is very much in. So their losses shouldn’t be nearly as severe.

It’s not just television networks that will take a hit, though. U.S. Soccer has a number of big-time corporate sponsors who were counting on the team playing in the World Cup to justify their investments. Those companies include Coca-Cola, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Johnson & Johnson, and Nike, just to name a few.

And let’s not overlook the effect on the sport as a whole. Though soccer is firmly established in the United States on both the amateur and professional levels, interest spikes every time the US Men or U.S. Women take the field for the World Cup. Without this spike, the development of high-end talent is likely to slow down over the next four years. In the end, while the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the World Cup is not nearly as catastrophic as it would have been twelve or even eight years ago, it’s still a pretty big deal.