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21st Century Fox Ends Women's World Cup with Record Ratings - Analyst Blog

Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.FOXA saw ratings hit the roof as USA defeated Japan 5-2 to lift the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. With nearly 25.4 million viewers on Fox and 1.3 million on Spanish network Telemundo, it is now the highest viewed soccer match in American history.

The peak audience reached a whopping 30.9 million at around 8:30-8:45 PM while toward the end, some part of the game had a viewership of 43.2 million. Fox Sports Go saw a record 232,000 people streaming the match live.

A hat trick by midfielder Carli Llyod in the first 16 minutes of the game left the opponents rather defenceless. Llyod was adjudged as the best player in the tournament and was awarded the Golden Ball while fellow team mate and goalkeeper was awarded the Golden Glove award.

The 25 million plus viewership eclipsed the 18.2 million record held by the men's USA-Portugal match in group stage of the 2014 World Cup broadcasted live on ESPN. Moreover, ratings were way ahead of the 1999 USA-China Women's World Cup final (17.9 million) and 2011 USA-Japan Women's World Cup final (13.5 million).

The viewership also beat the numbers of every record-breaking NBA finals broadcasted on ABC this year, while coming second to NCAA Men's Basketball Championship that had 28.3 million viewers.

The ratings have provided a much needed breather for Fox after the network concluded one of its worst possible seasons ever, recently. Last season, the network finished fourth, both in terms of total viewers and the important 18-49 demography.

Falling ratings and subsequently dwindling advertisement revenues became the company's most pressing concerns. However, with 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, Fox has made a terrific comeback. Each match of the tournament had an average viewership of 1.8 million across FOX, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2.

In 2010, it looked like a risky gamble when Twenty-First Century Fox in partnership with Comcast Corporation CMCSA owned Spanish-language network Telemundo shelled out $1 billion for the rights to the FIFA events from 2015 to 2022. This reflected a substantial rise from the combined cost of $425 million paid by The Walt Disney Company's DIS ESPN ($100 million) and Univision ($325 million) for the 2010-2014 events. Twenty-First Century Fox had paid $400 million while Telemundo shelled out $600 million.

At the time, soccer was relatively less popular in America than in Europe and other parts of the world. Moreover, women's edition of the game was even less popular.

However, things have changed drastically in the last five years. Apart from live coverage becoming excessively valuable, soccer started gaining tremendous popularity, especially after the national team made it to the Round 16 of 2014 FIFA Men's World Cup held in Brazil. Moreover, the women's edition has started to garner sizable attraction globally as reflected in rising viewership for 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Rising viewers guarantees increase in sponsorship and in turn, higher advertising revenues. Moreover, broadcasting soccer tournaments will help Twenty-First Century Fox to expand the reach of its sports channels that currently has a relatively smaller audience compared to ESPN.

The amazing response garnered by the 2015 Women's World Cup sets the rhythm for the Men's World Cup to be broadcasted by the company in 2022. Twenty-First Century Fox recently acquired the telecast rights for 2026 World Cup.

At present, Twenty-First Century Fox carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in media sector is Time Warner Inc. TWX , which has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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