The next World Cup, set to be hosted in Russia, is still a year away, but Facebook, Twitter, and Snap Inc. are already gunning to purchase video rights from exclusive rights holder Fox Sports, according to a report from Bloomberg today. Given the global audience of the event, and its rising viewership here in the US, social media giants are eager to fashion themselves as the destination for game highlights. All three companies are reportedly prepared to pays tens of millions of dollars, Bloomberg reports.
It’s still unclear whether Fox, which paid $400 million for broadcast rights for the 2018 World Cup, will license video to a single company or allow multiple companies to share exclusive footage. Live sports remain one of cable’s, and broader TV industry’s, last remaining defenses against the rise of on-demand streaming services. It’s clear Fox could earn substantial revenues from tech and digital media companies by offering rights to an event as all-consuming as the World Cup.
Facebook and Twitter are already deep in a multi-year process of transforming their services into destinations for both user-generated and professionally crafted video. Twitter has bold plans to turn its platform into a 24-hour live video service, and it’s already cut deals in the past with the NFL and other broadcasters to make inroads in that department.
Facebook, on the other hand, has invested heavily in turning its platform into a place for all different types of video, from VR content to 360-degree videos to live broadcasts from news organizations and celebrities. Now, Facebook wants to compete with the likes of Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix in the original video arena as well. Snap, which has long experimented with original video from creators in its Discover tab, managed to secure rights to highlights from the Olympics last year, making the World Cup a logical next step.
In the past, especially during the 2014 World Cup, users would repost footage from sports channels and broadcasters, running afoul of copyright and trademark laws and sending wave after wave of takedown notices at social account holders. Now, it’s clear these companies want to stay ahead of that issue by giving users easy and legal access to this footage. By doing so, Facebook, Twitter, and Snap are also making sure their apps are seen as the best and most accessible way to consume news, entertainment, sports, and commentary from your friends and strangers — all in one place.
Update 5:08PM ET, 7/6: Clarified that Snap Inc. too is trying to secure World Cup highlight rights from Fox.