With the 2018 FIFA World Cup Draw airing on FS1 last Friday morning, there was reduced interest as compared to the previous World Cup Draw which aired in 2013 on ESPN2. First, the show aired while many people were working (which isn’t a unique problem compared to prior draws). Starting at 10 a.m. ET, many potential viewers were either at work or heading to work. Second, there’s no rooting interest for many with the USMNT failing to qualify.
Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily has the numbers for FS1’s World Cup Draw, and they were not pretty:
Amid whole bunch of news Friday morning, and without U.S. Soccer going to Russia, FS1 drew 65,000 viewers for the 2018 World Cup Draw. Four years ago on ESPN2, the draw got 489,000 viewers. After this year's draw, ESPN2 got 86,000 for post-draw special, while FS1 had 43,000
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) December 6, 2017
That is a huge drop compared to four years ago. In comparison, Undisputed with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe typically draws an average of around twice the 65,000 viewers for the Draw.
Over on Telemundo, the Draw also took a hit compared to four years ago on Univision, dropping from over one million viewers to under 300,000.
Update per source:
2017 Telemundo FIFA WC Draw on Friday averaged 273K
2013 Univision FIFA WC Draw: 1.063 million https://t.co/nOVopHtTKO
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) December 6, 2017
With the World Cup taking place halfway across the world in Russia and no United States team taking part, Fox may implement some creative marketing to draw viewers, aside from hoping to latch onto Mexico as a potential home team..
Of course, the World Cup Draw isn’t a true indication, but it may be a harbinger of things to come for Fox/FS1. Fox outbid ESPN for the World Cup when it was a hot property, but the 2014 event was only one hour ahead of the east coast. both 2018 and 2022 will be eight hours ahead of the east coast and the latter event in Qatar is expected to take place not in the summer, but in the late fall or early winter when football is dominating American airwaves.
So while the coverage isn’t off to a great start ratings-wise, there are still seven months to go before the first match begins. Fox still is hoping that the interest will build as we get closer to the event.