Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Snap Inc. are seeking online rights to video highlights from next year’s World Cup, soccer’s most popular tournament, according to two people familiar with the matter. The companies have offered 21st Century Fox Inc. tens of millions of dollars for rights to highlights from the Russia-hosted games that air in the US, according to the people, who declined to provide more specific terms and asked not to be identified because the talks are private.Fox hasn’t decided whether to sell exclusive rights to one buyer or to spread them around. The World Cup is an attractive target for social-media companies eager to exhibit more premium video and attract advertisers. The 2014 World Cup Final was viewed by more than 25 million people in the US, the most-watched soccer match in the country’s history. With many of next year’s games at odd hours because of the time difference in Russia, highlights may be in greater demand. acebook and Twitter hosted very little video during the last World Cup, which aired on Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN in the US. Snap was just beginning to expand from video-messaging to hosting more professionally produced video.The company created a video, called a live story, of user-generated footage from the World Cup final. Fox will retain rights to use highlights on its various shows, according to the people, and count on Facebook, Snap and Twitter to entice more casual sports fans to show an interest in the tournament. The companies could also produce highlight shows and other original commentary programs to complement the highlights.One risk for the media companies is that they’ll send too many sponsors and viewers to faster-growing social media companies that already dominate online advertising. Facebook passed Fox in annual sales last year and is expected to increase revenue 39 percent to $38.5 billion in 2017. Live sports have been the TV industry’s strongest bulwark against steady decline in live viewership. Fans of football and basketball tend not to watch games on-demand, which has enabled TV networks to sell advertisements for sporting events at higher and higher prices.
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