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FIFA takes giant step into broadcast business with launch of FIFA+ streaming channel

FIFA has expanded into the media business launching its own broadcast platform – FIFA+ – that will stream a mix of live matches, acquired documentary and lifestyle programming, as well as archive content.

The programming will be delivered free of charge and will be available worldwide on the fifa.com web platform.

The service will be available in five language editions (English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish), with FIFA saying an additional six languages will be added in June 2022.

“FIFA+ represents the next step in our vision to make football truly global and inclusive, and it underpins FIFA’s core mission of expanding and developing football globally,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“This project represents a cultural shift in the way different types of football fans want to connect with and explore the global game and has been a fundamental part of my Vision 2020-2023. It will accelerate the democratisation of football and we are delighted to share it with fans.”

FIFA said that its broadcast coverage will grow to streaming 40,000 live games per year, starting with 1,400 matches that will be live streamed monthly from launch.

The matches will come from 100 member associations across all six confederations, said FIFA, and will include 11,000 women’s matches as well as live coverage from a number of Europe’s top flight leagues as well as men’s, women’s and youth football competitions from other countries that have previously had little or no international exposure.

At the same time FIFA has invested in its Match Centre that provides football data, growing it to cover 400 men’s competitions and 65 women’s competitions worldwide.

FIFA will also use its 2,000-hour archive to generate content and will broadcast full-match replays and highlights, as well as packaging goals and “magical moments”. FIFA said the “FIFA+ Archive will launch with more than 2,500 videos dating back to the 1950s, with many more to come throughout the year.”

A key programming feature at launch will be the FIFA+ Originals strand that will feature full-length documentaries, docuseries, talk shows and shorts.

For the launch, FIFA has commissioned a number of programmes and series including Ronaldinho: The Happiest Man in the World; Captains: Season 1 – an 8-part series following six national team captains and their journey to Qatar 2022; Golden Boot – an original 4 x 48-minute docuseries interviewing the greatest World Cup goalscorers; and Icons – a 5 x 26-minute docuseries showcasing five of the biggest game-changers of the women’s game: Wendie Renard, Lucy Bronze, Asisat Oshoala, Carli Lloyd and Sam Kerr.

And for those looking for something for lifestyle themed, the platform will broadcast HD Cutz – an original 8-part docuseries with barber to the (football) stars Sheldon Edwards.

The launch of FIFA+ marks a major shift in FIFA’s consumer facing operations as the global governing body transitions from being a seller of rights to the TV business to a broadcast operator in its own right.

The live rights sales, mainly of the World Cup, to broadcasters worldwide have been the key pillar of FIFA’s financial growth this century. That income is now being used to launch FIFA’s own broadcast channel and will inevitably challenge for football’s broadcast consumers worldwide.

To take a significant chunk of that viewing audience FIFA will have to deliver high quality programming that comes at a cost. While FIFA has plenty of money, its current broadcast partners could take exception if their money ends up funding what becomes a broadcast rival that eats into their viewing audiences. Inside World Football

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