A magnate's sphere of influence: UNITED STATES
Sunday 16 April 1995
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.
Latest in Sport
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...