Fox Sports to Stream First Game of German Soccer League on YouTube

Kicking off its ambitious, global roll-out of the Bundesliga, Fox is letting people watch Friday's opening match for free online.

In a bid for maximum publicity and exposure, Fox Sports has taken the unusually step of giving away one of its premium live sports events for free.

Fox will stream Friday's opening day match of the German soccer league live on YouTube. The game, between clubs Bayern Munich and Hamburg, kicks off the 2015/2016 season and is the start of Fox's five-year exclusive deal for North American rights to the Bundesliga. In an unprecedented global deal, Fox has secured rights in 80 territories for the Bundesliga: for the next five years in North and South America and Asia and for two years in select European territories. 

But Germany's top flight soccer league has nowhere near the fan base or brand recognition of England's Premiere League, which airs on NBC Sports in the U.S., so Fox has an uphill battle to attract attention — and viewers — for the upcoming seasons.

Hence the YouTube launch. The Munich vs. Hamburg match will air live at 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox 2 in the U.S. as well as across Fox's own streaming services Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer 2 Go and FoxSports.com. But with YouTube, the Bundesliga kickoff will be truly global.

Liz Dolan, chief marketing officer of Fox International Channels (FIC) explained the free stream as the final element in what has been months of promotion across FIC's networks.

"It gives us enormous reach and lets everyone everywhere watch and see what we're talking about," she tells THR

Fox is pushing soccer hard in the U.S., hoping to capitalize on what some see as a rising wave of enthusiasm for the sport stateside. The network scored big with its coverage of the Women's World Cup, which peaked with the 25.4 million viewers that watched the tournament final, a record figure for a soccer game telecast in the U.S. Last year's Men's World Cup in Brazil was also a ratings winner. Fox is keen to point out that most of the players on Germany's championship side play in the Bundesliga.

Fox outbid ESPN for the Men's 2018 and 2022 World Cups and the channel holds rights for the European Champions League through 2018 as well as the CONCACAF Champions League

Pitching German soccer to a U.S. audience, Dolan says the focus of Fox's campaign has been on the Bundelisga being a league of young players – it has the lowest average age of any of the top five European leagues – and on the number of goals. The Bundesliga is the highest-scoring of the major European leagues, with an average of around 3 goals per game. "American fans like goals," says Dolan.

Because Fox has Bundesliga rights worldwide, the branding and marketing of the league will be uniform across all territories, something Simon Thomas, executive vp global sports and content sales at FIC said will help allow Fox to do world-wide ad campaigns linked to the league.

In the U.S., the move to Fox Sports from its previous home on the tiny Gol TV will certainly be a boost for the Bundesliga. Fox has confirmed it will air 58 Bundesliga games live on Fox Sports 1 (85 million U.S. households) and 60 more on Fox Sports 2 (60 million households). FOX Deportes will broadcast 105 matches in Spanish.

Viewers can watch Fox's Bundesliga promo below or Fox Sports YouTube channel from 2.30 pm ET here.

 

Twitter: @sroxborough   

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