A game of lying poker, a potentially catastrophic symbol, a game of tug of war… The formulas to justify why the 2023 Women’s Football World Cup has still not found a broadcaster on the Old Continent compete in imagination – and hardly mask a growing concern.
For the first time in the history of football, FIFA is negotiating the TV rights for this competition, organized in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, out of the bosom of the Men’s World Cup. The broadcasters of the “Big-Five” (England, Germany, Spain, Italy, France), therefore have no case law to which to cling to in order to reach an agreement. Here are the reasons given for the risk of black screen on the Blue.
FIFA has eyes bigger than its stomach
“On the one hand, we have interested broadcasters, and on the other a FIFA that is too greedy in the face of market conditions: a later tournament than usual (Editor’s note: in the middle of summer rather than in June) which complicates the sale of advertising spots, coupled with a complicated time difference with Australia and New Zealand (in France, the matches will take place in the morning or in the middle of the day)” analyzes Luc Arrondel, specialist in the economy of the football and research director at the CNRS.
“However, broadcasters will want to recover part of their stake by selling advertising, betting on the same success as in 2019”, he explains. “We can legitimately wonder if FIFA did well to change strategy, especially after awarding the event to Oceania…” On the FIFA side, we remind anyone who wants to listen that “the call for tenders for the rights to broadcast the 2023 Women’s World Cup in several European markets has so far not been successful, due to a lack of offers that recognize the biggest women’s football tournament in the world”. A total of 1.12 billion viewers followed the official broadcasts of the 2019 Women’s World Cup on the various platforms, which is a record audience for the competition.
In addition, the Women’s World Cup was allocated $150 million in “prize money”, an increase of 300% compared to 2019. But this is still far from the $440 million dedicated to men at the World Cup. in Qatar in 2022. “FIFA probably has in mind to want to recover part of this sum through TV rights, which is probably a false argument given gigantic reserves at its disposal », Considers Luc Arrondel, also co-author of « L’Argent du football, Vol. 3 – Women’s football”, to be published by Rue d’Ulm.
Nearly a billion tickets sold
The more time pes, the more the negotiation will be in favor of the broadcasters, believe the specialists. For this first edition of unbundled TV rights sales, expectations are high and the pressure is mounting, here as elsewhere in Europe. “This is not a specifically Franco-French problem,” agrees Sacha Brunet, lead consultant at the sports marketing agency Two Circles. “The dynamics around women’s football are certainly a little different depending on the country, but overall they show a real enthusiasm for the discipline,” she says.
“Especially since visibility is essential to continue to grow women’s sport as a whole, and football in particular”. And recalls that according to a study published by Two Circles and Sporsora, the main gateways to becoming fans of female sports are television, followed by the Olympics. The stakes are therefore considerable.
According to FIFA, almost a billion tickets have already been sold for the occasion – and the final target is set at 1.5 billion. On the audience side, the bar has been set at two billion viewers. It remains to be seen what the share of the Europeans will be.