Second Schedule – USWNT’s Schedule Conundrum
Women’s soccer is becoming increasingly popular across the world, which is why FIFA made the decision to expand the field of teams from 24 to 32 in this year’s World Cup. Although new countries are being introduced to World Cup glory, the key markets still lie in the Western world, with the United States holding the most viewers due to the historic success of their women’s team.
The World Cup is currently being hosted in Australia and New Zealand with the Round of 16 playing out as we speak. This host site presented a problem to FIFA in terms of viewership because the East Coast of the US is 14 and 16 hours behind the host sites respectively, meaning the women’s team would need to play during specific time slots that are reasonable for both the host site and cities in America.
This was accomplished during the group stage as those games are pre-determined, but for the knockout stage FIFA essentially predicted that the US would finish first in their group, allowing for them to claim this special time slot. However, things went south when the US drew Portugal in the final group stage game, handing first place and the time slot to the Netherlands. This was an unfortunate blow to Fox Sports and Telemundo, who partnered with FIFA to televise the games in the United States, as it resulted in lower viewership than expected. Considering that the USWNT’s group stage games were constantly breaking viewership records, this was clearly a missed business opportunity for the companies involved. Despite this, things may not be so bad after all as the US eventually were eliminated by Sweden, but it goes to show that nothing is guaranteed in sports or business.
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