Growth of soccer in U.S. no threat to NFL ratings: Fox

Wed Mar 4, 2015 2:37pm EST
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By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Soccer may be a hot commodity in the U.S. sport market but poses no threat to the NFL, which will remain King of the Hill for the foreseeable future, Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said on Wednesday.

Fox, which broadcasts NFL games, also owns U.S. television rights to the 2018, 2022 and 2026 World Cups, the 2015 Women's World Cup and a portfolio of domestic leagues but it is American football that dominates its ratings.

"We are a sport crazy country and there is nothing right now that would indicate that there is any threat to the King of the Hill which is the NFL," Shanks said at the Sport Business Summit in midtown Manhattan.

"Football is a uniquely American sport ... athletes will continue to play football for a very long time in this country."

In 2011, Fox, NBC and CBS agreed to a record-smashing, nine-year, $28 billion television rights deal with the NFL that dwarfed all other U.S. broadcast packages.

While the NFL remains the undisputed No. 1 for the U.S. broadcasters, soccer has made solid gains in the United States both on and off the pitch.

Major League Soccer continues to add new franchises and has become an increasingly popular destination for marquee names.

The American appetite for top flight soccer has even caught the attention of sponsors and advertisers as television ratings for everything from Premier League to women's soccer skyrocket.   Continued...