Paint us a picture of who wins the ’18 and ’22 Kickball Cup TV bid: ESPN, over NBC and Fox again?


ESPN, Fox and NBC will find out Friday which of them has way overbid for the U.S. TV rights for the FIFA World Cups of 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.

But then, if you like watching paint dry, you can just stay here.

The three networks put in their last numbers today during a closed-door meetings at FIFA headquarters. Now they wait to find out how excited ESPN will be to win it again, bringing relieve to Fox and NBC executives.

Chuck Blazer, the American representative on FIFA’s executive committee, said he was “optimistic” the U.S. will continue to be FIFA’s most lucrative national market.

Not that he gets a finder’s fee or anything.

“I’m very optimistic as to the results” for the two-tournament package, Blazer told The Associated Press by telephone from New York. “I have high expectations that the deal will see some record-breaking numbers.”

Blazer predicted the value would rise “considerably” from the $425 million that FIFA received for U.S. rights for the 2010-2014 package. ESPN paid $100 million for English language rights and Univision bought Spanish-language rights for $325 million.

FIFA was paid $2.4 billion in broadcast sales worldwide just for the 2010 tournament played in South Africa. It was packaged with the 2014 event in Brazil, which is in a more attractive time zone for U.S. networks.

The latest deal is less friendly to American audiences. Qatar defeated the U.S. in the final round of voting in a five-bid contest last December for the 2022 Games.

FIFA announced in March that it already sold $1.7 billion worth of 2018-2022 broadcast rights to the Middle East and parts of Asia and Latin America. The deals were 90 percent more valuable than the same territories earned for 2010-2014, FIFA said.

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