TOKYO — Japanese web Fuji Television Network has purchased the broadcasting rights in Japan for South American and European qualifying matches for the 2002 World Cup.
It did not disclose the amount it paid for the rights in the deal with the Federation Intl. de Football Assn. (FIFA).
Fuji TV has the broadcast rights to 90 games from South America and 230 games from Europe as nations try for a finals spot in the world’s biggest sporting event.
The matches in South America will be played starting within the next few weeks and run through November, while the European matches will start this September.
Fuji will show highlights of the matches from late April in a weekly show and will broadcast some contests in their entirety.
Fuji has also sold the rights to satcasters Sky PerfecTV and its own BS Fuji . Fuji TV is one of the leading investors in Sky PerfecTV.
World Cup soccer scored big in Japanese ratings in 1998 when Japan made it to the finals for the first time. Japan’s first match in the finals against Argentina was the highest-rated sports show in the nation’s TV history with a 67.3% rating, according to ratings agency Video Research Ltd.
Sky PerfecTV has been able to boost its subscriber base with its broadcasts of Italian Series A soccer. Two Japanese stars play for teams in the league.
Japan, which will co-host the 2002 World Cup finals with South Korea, does not need to qualify for the tournament because it is a host.