A magnate's sphere of influence: UNITED STATES

RUPERT MURDOCH is not a name you would expect to carry much weight among the popcorn-chomping crowds who fill American football stadiums, but mention it to a true aficionado of the game, and it will prompt a bout of tooth- sucking.

He was the one, they'll tell you, who bought the television rights to Sunday-night National Football League games, after CBS had been screening them in the United States for 38 years, helping build the sport into a giant industry, a television spectacle, and a continuing national passion. He was the Australian media mogul turned American citizen who paid all that money for a four-year deal - $1.58bn, one and a half times what CBS paid for the previous four years.

When Murdoch delivered a flying tackle to CBS by acquiring the rights for games in the National Football Conference (the stronger of the two conferences) in December 1993, it made front-page news headlines, partly because of the money involved, and partly because it was such an audacious move, proof-positive that when he said he wanted to make Fox Broadcasting into America's fourth television network, he meant it.

It paid off. Fox hired CBS's top commentators (paying one, John Madden, $30m over four years) and technicians. Although ratings were lower than CBS's, and analysts predicted that Murdoch could lose around $500m during the four-year contract, the acquisition gave his network's credibility a sharp boost. Fox stations soared in value and Murdoch soon found himself in a strong position to recruit more affiliates to add to his chain.

Within five months, Fox triumphantly announced a deal in which 12 big- city stations switched their affiliations from CBS, NBC, and ABC to his network, a move which shook his network rivals to the core. To their undoubted relief, his advance has since been slowed by an investigation by the US Federal Communications Commission into the possibility that he broke the foreign ownership laws when he first began building his US television empire.

Nor does it appear that Murdoch's sudden interest in American football stops at the shores of the United States. Observers believe he is playing quarterback in a global game in which he will use his other outlets in an effort to make it of international interest. If all goes well, this could one day start producing world-class sums of money - which is, of course, what Rupert Murdoch really means by sport.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high