America’s biggest football game will serve as a kickoff for the rebranding efforts of a fútbol network.
Fox’s pregame show for its Super Bowl XXXIX telecast Feb. 6 will host a segment trumpeting the conversion of Fox Sports World to Fox Soccer Channel the following day.
In addition to showcasing the service’s new look and logo, the segment will feature soccer stars Mia Hamm and Freddy Adu talking up the network as “America’s Soccer Channel.”
“It exemplifies the commitment Fox overall as a corporation has to this network and to promoting soccer in this country,” Fox Soccer general manager David Sternberg said. “It’s not just a niche sport anymore but a programming genre that appeals to every sports fan.”
Sternberg said it’s a natural progression for the seven-year-old, 20 million-subscriber network. “Given that 80%-85% of programming hours are devoted to soccer, we needed to bring the image of the network in line with what people are tuning in to watch,” he added.
Last year, Fox Sports World premiered several new soccer shows, including a Major League Soccer game of the week and the Champions World Tour, featuring international soccer powers like Manchester United.
The network also holds rights to the Barclays English Premier League, United Soccer Leagues, the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup, the Toyota Intercontinental Cup and World Cup qualifying matches for England and the United States.
Fox Cable executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Lindsay Gardner said affiliates have been notified of the change and all will remain on board. The network -- which is primarily carried on digital-basic or digital-sports tiers -- has carriage pacts with every major MSO.
Sternberg said other programming, like traditional Rugby matches and indoor soccer, will round out soccer fare for at least another six months as rights deals expire.
He added that the network will debut during the second quarter Fox Soccer USA, a weekly 30-minute show focusing on amateur soccer news. And it will add an on-screen soccer-scores ticker.
For more on Fox Soccer Channel, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page two of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.