October 11 – FIFA has begun the sales process for the broadcast rights to the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, launching an invitation to tender (ITT) for the UK media rights.
It is an unusual step by FIFA to publicly announce an ITT but the fact it has done so reflects a changing media marketplace in the UK as well as an anticipated and significant jump in the commercial value of the Women’s World Cup.
The last edition of the Women’s World Cup in Canada broke broadcast records in virtually all markets globally, but especially in the higher spending UK market, and England in particular with the English women’s team winning the third place play-off having narrowly missed out on qualifying for the final.
Those World Cup performances generated broad-based viewer interest levels previously unseen for the women’s game in England. That interest has continued into a revamped domestic Premier League structure and dramatically increased media profiles for England’s star players.
With UK nations not playing at the Olympics (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cannot agree to play under a united Great Britain flag), the women’s World Cup assumes considerably greater importance for those countries.
FIFA will be hoping to cash in on what it believes is a previously undervalued product in one of the highest paying broadcast markets. The Women’s World Cup will not immediately become the cashcow that the men’s World Cup has grown into, but it certainly capable of making a major positive contribution to FIFA’s four year revenue cycle – it is FIFA most under-exploited asset.
For the Canada 2015 edition the BBC was the rights holder in the UK. However, with BBC budgets squeezed and struggling in some sports to go beyond contributions to production costs even for national team events deemed of ‘national importance’, FIFA could find that a deal with pay broadcasters will achieve their revenue objectives.
The rights on offer cover TV, IPTV, internet, mobile and radio transmissions. FIFA says it will “select the media company that is best placed to operationally secure the required transmission commitments and to achieve FIFA’s objectives of reaching the widest possible audience and providing the best-quality viewing experience for fans.” That does not necessarily mean the rights will be available for free-to-air terrestrial television only.
FIFA has opened an initial question and answer period from October 11-28, with submissions to FIFA to be received November 3. Negotiations with any preferred bidders will start on November 7, 2016.
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