CBC and Sportsnet will be shut out of broadcasting the World Cup until 2030, at the earliest. In a surprise announcement yesterday that nobody was expecting, FIFA said they were extending their television contracts in Canada with CTV/TSN/RDS and in the US with Fox Sports and Telemundo without a bidding process.
Back in 2011, Bell Media won the World Cup rights from 2015 to 2022 which includes World Cup’s in Russia, Qatar, and the Women’s World Cup later this year in Canada, as well as numerous smaller tournaments. This extension adds the 2026 World Cup to the agreement along with the following tournaments: Women’s World Cup 2023, U20 World Cup 2023 and 2025, U17 World Cup 2023 and 2025, Beach Soccer World Cup 2023 and 2025, Futsal World Cup 2024, U20 Women’s World Cup 2024 and 2026, U17 Women’s World Cup 2024 and 2026, and FIFA Confederations Cup 2025.
“We are delighted to extend our partnership with FIFA and are proud to be the Canadian home of FIFA tournaments for the next 12 years,” said Phil King, President, CTV Programming and Sports. “This is another big win for Bell Media and for soccer fans in Canada. We are ready to welcome the world to this summer’s FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP CANADA 2015™ and are looking forward to showcasing the beautiful game for years to come.”
There is literally only one reason I can think of as to why FIFA would extend their agreements with these two North American broadcasters without the usual bidding process — a make-good gesture for when the 2022 Qatar World Cup will be moved from summer to the fall or winter. In the summer, the World Cup would be going against little other sports programming. With a move to the fall or winter, even with the time difference, World Cup games would clash with NFL and college football among other big-time programming.
Even more puzzling is awarding rights to a World Cup that has no location yet. There is a strong possibility that the USA and/or Canada could host the 2026 World Cup, which would’ve sparked a massive bidding war for record ratings, and we all know FIFA loves money. Now, this could be a major steal for Bell and Fox, something that no doubt is pissing off the ESPN suits.
As for CBC or Sportsnet, there is certainly little chance either network could afford FIFA rights anytime soon, but 2030 is a long time away in the sports media world, so maybe they’ll have a shot then.