Even without the United States in the World Cup, the ratings for Fox’s presentation of the quadrennial soccer event have been pretty good. And despite a rather lousy time slot for most people who work during the day, things have been pretty good on the viewership front.
This includes an across the board bump for Fox Sports 1 beyond just live soccer matches.
Launched five years ago in August, FS1 has fought a brave fight against ESPN. The network, owned by Fox, has hired away prominent ESPN personalities such as Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd and brought in live sports programming such as MLB, college football, and basketball as well as MLS and Champions League soccer. The ratings have been solid, but rival ESPN still controls the market share.
The World Cup, however, is bringing in new eyeballs and not just for the soccer. It turns out that fans are sticking around and discovering other programming on FS1.
‘Undisputed’ featuring the aforementioned Bayless and former NFL star Shannon Sharpe has ratings up 94 percent (260,000 viewers on average) as opposed to the same span a year ago (134,000). The Herd is set for its best July ever (189,000 viewers on average) and its 157,000 viewers on average during the World Cup represents a 67 percent increase over this time a year ago.
In addition to those two shows, no programming has seen a greater World Cup-related spike than ‘Speak for Yourself’ which features Cowherd and esteemed veteran journalist Jason Whitlock. The show is up 159 percent over the same span a year ago, averaging 251,000 viewers during the World Cup’s run on Fox.
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FS1 isn’t immune to cord cutters and prior to the World Cup, the sports network was down five percent in viewership since the same time a year ago. Now during the World Cup, total viewership is up eight percent over the same span a year ago.
It is proving to be a savvy investment from Fox, who paid just shy of $1 billion for this World Cup as well as the edition in 2022. Programming has aired on FS1 and the Fox network as well as replays on FS2.
The related ratings boost is huge for FS1, who has done a nice job with live programming, but still needed an event like this to introduce their brand to a wider audience. Getting people to tune into the station has done well in getting new viewers to the station.
Maybe they'll stick around and continue to watch FS1 as an alternative to ESPN, this as the 'Worldwide leader' has seen ratings losses in recent years.
Digitally, the gains are certainly there for Fox as well.
England v. Croatia was the most-streamed World Cup semifinal in history, with an average minute audience of 830,000 viewers streaming the match digitally. There were 23 million video views of highlights on FoxSports.com and 16 million viewed clips and highlights of the match on Fox’s different Twitter handles.