Women's World Cup a ‘Different Kind of Challenge’

Fox Sports Go App to Stream All 52 Matches, Offer Alternate Video Feeds
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Fox Sports Digital will live-stream all 52 matches of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and couple that coverage with a batch of alternate video streams that will complement the primary simulcast via Fox Sports GO, the programmer’s authenticated TV Everywhere app.

That online coverage of the tournament, spanning 200-plus hours of programming, presents “a different kind of challenge, because it’s not a one-off,” Clark Pierce, senior vice president of TV Everywhere and special projects at Fox Sports Digital, said.

Fox has live streamed lots of tent-pole sporting events, including the Super Bowl, but the Women’s World Cup represents a different form of scale. The tournament opens Saturday, when host Canada takes on China. The final is set for July 5.

“I know we’re up for it. We’re looking forward to the challenge,”  Pierce said, noting that Fox Sports Go has a busy month ahead amid its coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament and the MLB All-Star game.

Update: The NBC Deportes En Vivo app (for Android and iOS) will also live-stream all 52 matches of the Women’s World Cup, along with some exclusive digital content.  The NBCDeportes.com website will also offer all of the games to credentialed viewers, including exclusive video from the Canadian stadiums and host cities; pre- and post-game information; highlights of the best goals and plays; player profiles; as well as analysis and commentary by NBC Deportes experts.

Programmers will need to keep their streaming capacities flexible, braced for spikes that occur during the World Cup matches. Fox will again work with Akamai, its content delivery network partner, to keep tabs on the fluctuating traffic.  Fox’s online coverage of UEFA Champions League matches, which feature home-and-home legs, have helped the programmer obtain “Internet prime time data and experience,” Pierce said.

Another new OTT tangent for Fox during the Women’s World Cup will its featuring of multiple alternative feeds via the Fox Sports Go app that will complement the primary simulcast of the matches:

-Match 360’: For all matches, this feature will provide a feed of pre-match prep, in-match highlights, and post-match coverage, including a highlight reel and press conferences.

-Tactical Cam: An in-match view, likely from behind one of the goals, that shows all players on the pitch and in-frame to show how the “shape” of an offense is attacking the shape of the defense. This will be available for 41 matches.

-Cable Cam: A view from the cable-cam as it flies above the pitch during play. This will be offered for 23 matches (limited to games in Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal).

Streaming coverage of the tournament should also give Fox’s TVE app a boost. “Big events like this help our usage grow,” Pierce said. “But it starts with awareness.”

Also helping: The app is now available to 85 million pay TV subs, a figure that has risen following recent integrations with DirecTV and Verizon FiOS.

Fox Sports GO has also expanded its platform reach, offered now on the Web (at FoxSportsGo.com), iOS and Android mobile devices, the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV box, and select Windows devices.

While removing more friction from the authentication process is an area always in search of improvement, the TVE’s broader capabilities continue to get better, Pierce said.

“I think there’s real value there now,” he said, using the analogy of online banking, which grew in popularity as systems became more capable, allowing users to transfer money and handle other tasks well beyond merely eyeing account balances. 

Fox Sports also has some other digital-facing elements in store during the tournament, including quick turn-around highlights at FoxSports.com and YouTube, a short-form daily video series called @TheBuzzer, Q&As hosted on Facebook with analysts Heather Mitts and Alexi Lalas prior to each U.S. women’s national team match, and has erected a dedicated web hub