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Why Facebook Wants to Stream FIFA World Cup Soccer in 2018

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Rights to FIFA World Cup video content

Facebook (FB) is reportedly interested in streaming highlights of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The company was said to be in discussions for the World Cup rights with 21st Century Fox (FOX). Twitter (TWTR) and Snap (SNAP) are reportedly pursuing similar rights with 21st Century Fox.

It’s not unusual to see that Facebook, Twitter, and Snap are interested in World Cup video rights. These companies have been investing heavily in video content as they pursue a larger share of television ad spending.

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US soccer World Cup viewership

In the video push by Internet companies, sports events provide coveted content. The growing popularity of soccer in the US (SPY) could be a reason Facebook and its peers are angling for World Cup video rights.

Nielsen data cited by the Wall Street Journal showed record viewership on ESPN and Univision channels during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, hosted by Brazil, compared to the 2010 World Cup, which was hosted by South Africa. For example, the first 14 World Cup matches in 2014 averaged 4.1 million views on ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC, implying an increase of 23.0% over the 2010 World Cup views. Univision’s 2014 soccer World Cup viewership rose 48% over its 2010 World Cup viewership.

As the chart above shows, the viewership of the US versus Ghana match in 2014 came close to rivaling that June’s NBA Finals viewership. This comparison highlights the popularity of soccer among Americans.

Bolstering advertiser attraction and retention

While soccer continues to gain a foothold in the US, it is a massively popular sport worldwide. So, streaming the FIFA World Cup in 2018 has the potential to bolster Facebook’s subscriber and advertiser attraction and retention.

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