FIFA has extended its television deal with Bell Media through 2026, meaning CTV, TSN, and RDS will be the exclusive Canadian broadcasters of the next three World Cup tournaments.
The sport's world governing body announced Thursday that it is extending the television deals with its American and Canadian partners, including Bell Media and Fox in the United States.
"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," Phil King, CTV president of programming and sports, said in a statement. "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."
The extended agreement also includes the 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.
The location of the 2026 World Cup has yet to be decided, but the tournament could be particularly attractive to the U.S. and Canadian broadcasters with the potential of favourable time zones with an event in the Americas — and possibly in the United States.
The 2018 World Cup is in Russia. The 2022 event, in Qatar, is presenting problems for North American broadcasters.
"Together, we will be able to further promote football in North America and build on the impressive interest shown by audiences in these major territories during the 2014 FIFA World Cup," Niclas Ericson, FIFA's director of TV, said in a statement.
FIFA plans to move the tournament out of the traditional June-July slot to avoid the brutal Qatari heat. A working group plans to recommend new dates at a Feb. 23 meeting in Doha. A different schedule would conflict with a busier time of year for sports in North America.
"You go into buying a World Cup and you believe it's going to be in the same time frame it's always been," Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said last year. "Clearly in America there's much more competition for ratings points."
The World Cup has become big business in the U.S. Last summer's final in Brazil was watched by 26.5 million people in the country between ESPN's ABC broadcast and Univision, up seven per cent from four years earlier.