- Fox Sports saw a major jump in app downloads among mobile users in the U.S. as the World Cup ramped up, according to App Annie data shared with Mobile Marketer. The Fox Sports app last week jumped to the third-most downloaded iPhone app in the U.S. after not even being ranked in the top 1,000 a week earlier.
- On Android, the Fox Sports app jumped to No. 5 in the Google Play store after not appearing in the top 1,000 the week before. Among sports apps, Fox Sports jumped to No. 2 last week in the Google Play store and Apple's App Store from top 20 rankings a week earlier, per App Annie.
- Fox has the English-language broadcast rights for this year's World Cup and is showing a small number of matches on the Fox network, Variety reported. Most games appear on the Fox Sports cable channels, while the app streams every match to people who create an account and turn on location services to verify their location.
Fox's jump in app downloads not only is a testament to the popularity of the World Cup, but also the power of re-branding an app to showcase a major sporting event. Fox temporarily changed the app's name to "FOX Sports: FIFA World Cup" and "FOX Sports: Watch 2018 FIFA World Cup Live" ahead of the opening of the soccer tournament in Russia, per App Annie. The network also updated the app's keywords, according to Variety, in order to position itself higher in search results and amplify its SEO potential around the global sporting event.
Fox this month added a variety of new features to its app to boost engagement with soccer fans, especially those in the U.S., whose national team did not qualify for the tournament, leading marketers to worry that viewership would be down among Americans. Coca-Cola sponsors short-form "90 in 90" match highlights and is a co-sponsor with Adidas of the app's Team Channels that show three live video feeds and real-time statistics. During games, the app offers a "tactical view" feature that shows all 22 players on the field and outlines the shape of the offense and defense of both teams. Fox Sports also teamed with LiveLike on a social virtual reality (VR) activation that includes three immersive VR feeds for each game.
Despite the efforts to engage global viewers, Fox Sports and Spanish-language channel Telemundo have seen a major drop in ratings compared to the most recent World Cup. Through the first round of games, U.S. TV viewership plunged about 44% compared to the tournament in 2014, according to data from Nielsen cited by Bloomberg.