Fox Sports World Offers MSOs Free Peek of Soccer Series

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In an effort to push the penetration of digital-basic and digital sports tiers, Fox Sports World next month will offer a portion of its coverage of soccer’s Champions World Series free to operators.

Fox Sports World will open its feed to all systems July 24 through 26, including three of the 11 soccer matches being played in the United States as part of the annual ChampionsWorld event. The competition features top international clubs, according to Fox senior vice president of affiliate marketing and local advertising sales Todd Schoen.

The games featured as part of the freeview include Chelsea vs. Celtic (July 24), Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich (July 25), and Celtic vs. Liverpool (July 26).

While no official deals have been reached, Schoen said numerous operators have shown interest in offering the network’s first preview.

Fox Sports World, currently in 19 million homes, will provide operators with on-air spots and other supportive marketing materials.

While Fox Sports World has distribution agreements with all the major MSOs, as well as direct-broadcast satellite services DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., the service has only garnered limited distribution on cable and sports tiers. The free preview is expected to help MSOs sell those tiers to consumers who may not be aware of the network or its programming.

Along with the exclusive coverage of the ChampionsWorld Series tour, Fox Sports World recently acquired the North American rights to the FA Premier League of England, England’s FA Cup, the English national side’s home qualifying matches for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the Euro 2008 championship qualifiers.

“Our sales job for Fox Sports World is pretty much done,” said Fox Cable Networks Group executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Lindsay Gardner. “There are more than 50 million homes that have access to Fox Sports World. We want as many of those as possible to get exposed to this channel.”

Gardner added the network is already planning to repeat the free preview next year when the series returns to the states.

Along with the free preview, Schoen also said Fox Sports World has approached operators in the Seattle, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh DMAs, where series games will be played, to develop local promotions that will award 10 cable customers two tickets to the game in their respective markets.