Posts with «soccer» label

Recommended Reading: Behind the wheel of the Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning first drive review: Worth the wait

John Beltz Snyder, Autoblog

The Ford F-150 is an insanely popular truck, so the debut of the electric version is an important moment for the US automaker. Our colleagues at Autoblog went behind the wheel for some initial impressions of the F-150 Lightning.


Twenty Thousand Hertz

Part two of the story behind the iconic Windows start up sounds continues with the company's decision to retire the audio in Windows 8. If you missed the first episode, former Microsoft lead UI designer Jensen Harris and sound designer Matthew Bennett discuss the clips. That episode covers the "Ta-da!" from Windows 3.1 through Windows 7, including the chime Brian Eno created for Windows 95.

Why FIFA’s split with EA Sports could prove to be a hugely expensive error

Iain Macintosh, The Athletic

The final FIFA-branded soccer game from EA Sports will be FIFA 23 as the two parties will part ways after working together to build the iconic series. The Athletic explains why FIFA's decision to make its own games (yes, plural) could prove to be a costly mistake.

EA will stop using FIFA's name in its soccer games next year

Electronic Arts is calling it quits with FIFA after nearly 30 years of using the soccer governing body's name in the titles of its games. FIFA 23 will be the last EA game with that branding when it arrives later this year. Starting in 2023, the annual soccer games will use the moniker "EA Sports FC" instead. More info about the first title in the revamped series will be revealed in July 2023.

Other than the rebranding, the EA Sports FC games may not be vastly different from what fans are used to in the long run. EA still holds licenses for more than 300 soccer partners and has exclusive agreements with the likes of the Premier League, MLS, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A.

You can expect next year's title to still have more than 19,000 players, 700+ teams, north of 100 stadiums and 30 leagues. Features such as career mode, Ultimate Team and VOLTA Football will still be present too. It's unclear, however, what the move will mean for the inclusion of FIFA-operated competitions such as the World Cup and Women’s World Cup in future titles.

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In the meantime, EA Sports and Racing executive vice-president Cam Weber said his team and FIFA "are excited to deliver the greatest, most expansive EA Sports FIFA ever later this fall." He said there will be more teams, players, competitions, leagues and game modes than in any previous games. These updates will not only be present in FIFA 23, but also in FIFA Mobile, FIFA Online 4 and esports.

“We’re thankful for our many years of great partnership with FIFA," EA CEO Andrew Wilson said in a statement. "The future of global football is very bright, and fandom around the world has never been stronger. We have an incredible opportunity to put EA Sports FC at the heart of the sport, and to bring even more innovative and authentic experiences to the growing football audience.”

The end of the partnership isn't too surprising. FIFA expressed concern last fall about one entity (i.e. EA) having too much of the soccer gaming pie. It was talking with developers and other parties about how to "widen" the scope of its gaming and esports offerings. EA, on the other hand, said soon after the launch of FIFA 22 that it was "reviewing our naming rights agreement with FIFA" ahead of a possible rebranding. It filed a trademark application for "EA Sports FC" around the same time.

There are, of course, financial considerations at play. The New York Times reported in October that FIFA makes around $150 million per year through its licensing agreement with EA. In negotiations with the publisher, FIFA is said to have asked for a payment of over $1 billion for each World Cup cycle of four years. The two sides were also reportedly at odds over the scope of the partnership as well, including aspects like exclusivity.

Fox Sports will offer World Cup pre-game shows on Twitter for every match

You won't have to leave the social media sphere to catch some of the coverage surrounding FIFA World Cup matches. Fox Sports has expanded its relationship with Twitter to offer live pre-game shows and in-match previews (through @foxsports and @foxsoccer) for every match of World Cup 2022 and Women's World Cup 2023. You can also expect "near real-time" highlights during play as well as post-match discussions.

The exclusive deal for both the men's and women's tournaments is a first for Twitter, according to the social network's global content head TJ Adeshola. Naturally, you can expect Fox to support the streams through ads.

You'll still have to use the Fox Sports app or website (plus a pay TV subscription) if you want to stream the matches themselves. Like it or not, the broadcaster still wants to steer you toward its most lucrative business. Even so, this at least offers more ways to immerse yourself in the group stages or build up hype for a must-win knockout match.

FIFA’s streaming service could be the first step to cutting out broadcasters

This morning FIFA, the global governing body for world soccer, announced the launch of its own streaming service. FIFA+ offers subscribers live streams of men and women’s matches, as well as a raft of original series and documentaries. The platform will also play host to a vast archive of older games from previous World Cups, as well as news, statistics and its own fantasy league.

But what’s likely to be the major draw for users is the live games, with FIFA saying that it’ll show the “equivalent of 40,000 live games per year.” At launch, we’ll see around 1,400 matches a month, with that figure “rising rapidly” until we get closer to 4,000 a month. Original series, including documentaries about Ronaldinho, Dani Alves and Lucy Bronze will help bulk out the reasons for users to hang out on the platform.

FIFA+ is, at launch, ad-supported and free, and so users shouldn’t expect to see live streams from any of the major football leagues. After all, European football is big business, and FIFA doesn’t have the ability (or cash) to start streaming games from England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy. Instead, it will focus on less well-represented competitions where the streaming rights aren’t tied up. The Hollywood Reporter suggests that domestic games from Mexico, Denmark, Poland and Angola will all feature.

It’s worth saying, too, that while FIFA is hoping to generate attention ahead of the 2022 World Cup, you won’t be able to stream those games. That, much like the big domestic leagues, is far too valuable to just give away for free, and it’s likely that those rights will be closely-guarded. But while FIFA+ for now may seem like an inexpensive afterthought, it marks something of a shift in the way live football can, or will, be accessed by the majority of its fans. This, to me, feels like FIFA testing the water for the long-mooted, albeit often-dismissed, “Netflix for Soccer.”

I can only really speak about the situation here in the UK, but I think the situation is similar across Europe. Here, major pay-TV providers offer up eye-watering amounts to secure the rights to broadcast live football matches. In the UK, for instance, the most recent deal was valued by Sky News at around £5.1 billion ($6.6 billion) for the right to show football. Of that figure, Comcast-owned Sky paid £4.5 billion ($5.8 billion), with BT Sport, Amazon and the BBC paying the rest. But despite the figures on offer, many clubs feel that they’re not getting a big enough slice of the pie.

This is, broadly speaking, because the cost of running a major football club has skyrocketed, and COVID-19 hasn’t helped. Inflation in transfer fees (how much it costs to buy a player) and salaries after 18 months of almost-nonexistent revenue has made even historically-wealthy clubs hit the financial skids. Barcelona, as close as a blue-chip brand in the soccer world as you can get, is currently trying to dig itself out of a $1.56 billion hole by selling NFTs (among other things). The ones that are surviving, and thriving, right now, are often owned by petro-states, who are bankrolling the clubs to launder their public image in the West on a money-no-object basis.

The present situation, with pay-TV providers keeping matches behind paywalls isn’t helped with some arcane blackout rules. The situation in the UK is as frustrating as it is for US baseball fans, where there’s no legal way for you to watch every game your team plays in a season. It means that there’s a number of people on every side of the debate who feel resentful about the current situation.

It’s why, back in 2020, the Premier League conceded that it was likely that, at some point in the future, it would launch its own direct-to-consumer streaming service. The thinking was, at that point, it could sell games straight to fans and offer them more comprehensive coverage. And, of course, any profit that Sky and other pay-TV providers made on subscription revenue would now go straight to the clubs. At the time, it seemed as much a negotiation tactic as a genuine strategy, but it deserved some serious analysis.

In February 2020, The Athletic suggested that “PremFlix,” as it was dubbed, would likely be a huge money-maker from the day it launched. There are currently 200 million or so people who pay for access to Premier League matches, writer Matt Slater mused. If the majority of those could be convinced to sign up, even at a discounted rate, the annual revenue could be worth £24 billion ($31 billion) – far more than the £5.1 billion paid for a three-year rights package.

It’s likely something that the major European leagues have been considering, behind closed doors, for the last few years. And it’s also likely that a combination of the high risk and massive early investment will put off owners looking for stability in the current uncertainty. But if FIFA+ can demonstrate that there’s an audience for live soccer streams, and that it can turn a profit on its archive content, it’s likely to push the conversation toward streaming far faster than it might have done so organically.

Of course, this is all for now just speculation, but it’s common in football for everyone to jump on a good (or bad) idea when it seems like it might make some money.

FC Barcelona's stadium will soon be renamed Spotify Camp Nou

FC Barcelona might be one of the most famous names in soccer, but the club is in bad financial shape. So much so, it couldn't afford to hang on to talisman Lionel Messi, who moved to Paris St Germain last summer. Overall, Barcelona is in debt to the tune of well over $1 billion. The club’s dire finances are being somewhat alleviated, though, with the help of a new sponsor: Spotify.

The audio streaming platform’s name will replace Rakuten on the front of men’s and women's team shirts (and replicas that fans buy) as part of a long-term partnership that starts in July. Spotify says it will work with Barcelona to “create opportunities for the iconic shirt to be a space that celebrates artists from across the world.” The team’s famed stadium will be rebranded as Spotify Camp Nou as well. It’s the first time Barcelona has renamed the stadium after a sponsor.

On top of that, as long as the Barcelona Members Assembly approves the deal next month, Spotify plans to draw attention to artists from around the world with the help of Barcelona, “giving a global stage to players and artists at Spotify Camp Nou.” Spotify believes the partnership and worldwide renown of the club will help it “create a new platform to help artists interact with Barcelona’s global community of fans.” More specifics will be announced later this year.

Reports suggest Spotify will pay Barcelona around $307 million over the course of the partnership. Spotify has been criticized for sponsoring Barcelona in a nine-figure deal instead of increasing payouts to artists and supporting them more at a grassroots level.

EA is removing Russian teams from FIFA and NHL games

EA says it's removing the Russian national team and clubs from FIFA 22, FIFA Mobile and FIFA Online. The move follows FIFA kicking Russia out of World Cup 2022 qualifying and UEFA suspending club teams from international competitions.

A statement from EA SPORTS FIFA:


"EA Sports stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and, like so many voices across the world of football, calls for peace and an end to the invasion of Ukraine," a statement shared on Twitter reads. The publisher said it was "actively evaluating related changes to other areas of our games" and that it would keep players informed about actions it takes.

In addition, EA will drop Russian and Belarusian national and club teams from NHL 22 in the coming weeks. The International Ice Hockey Federation banned teams from both countries from its competitions until further notice.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine's vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov urged Sony, Microsoft and other gaming companies to suspend Russian and Belarusian player accounts. He called on esports organizations to ban Russian and Belarusian teams and players from international events too. "We are sure that such actions will motivate the citizens of Russia to proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression," Fedorov wrote in an open letter.

US soccer matches are coming to HBO Max

As part of a new eight-year deal between the United States Soccer Federation and Turner Sports parent company Warner Media, HBO Max will stream at least 20 US national team matches every year moving forward from 2023. The agreement will make the streaming platform and Turner Sports channels TBS and TNT the exclusive English-language home of World Cup qualifier games played by both the men’s and women’s national soccer teams, as well as friendlies, send-off matches and special events leading up to the Olympics and World Cup.

Not included in the deal are the broadcast and streaming rights to World Cup tournament games. Fox Sports will continue to hold the men’s rights through to 2026 and 2023 for the women’s team. The deal builds on a similar one Turner Sports signed last year with the NHL. That agreement saw the company secure streaming rights to 72 regular season games, including the league’s annual Winter Classic match.

Recommended Reading: The soccer insider who dominates the internet

Behind the curtain with soccer’s prophet of the deal

Rory Smith, The New York Times

NBA fans have Adrian Wojnarowski. Soccer fans have Fabrizio Romano. When transfer season kicks into high gear, Romano dominates the internet with his deluge of insider information. In fact, he's probably tweeting right now. But at times, he has gone from being a reporter on the hot player swaps to being a participant in the proceedings. 

'Shang-Chi' VFX team on animating dragons and why movies aren't as colorful anymore

Jeremy Mathai, Slashfilm

Members of the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings visual effects team discuss how every Marvel movie is unique (but also similar), how VFX companies are cast like actors and how color in movies has changed.

Searching for Susy Thunder

Claire L. Evans, The Verge

Susan Thunder worked in the dial-a-whatever scene of the late 1970s, developing an intimate knowledge of the Bell network for phone scams. "Her specialty was social engineering," Evans writes as she went searching for "the great lost female hacker of the 1980s" who didn't want to be found. 

Video reviews will be used in 2022 North and Central American soccer tourneys

Soccer's Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is seemingly here to stay, at least in some parts of the world. CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) has revealed it will use VAR to help refs in numerous 2022 competitions. You can expect the technology in all remaining CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the men's and women's U20 Championships and the W Championship.

The organization's decision was prompted in part by success with VAR in 2021 competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League, Gold Cup and Nations League Finals. The Confederation said progress on VAR had been "considerably" delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now has enough VAR-qualified referees and venues to expand the technology's use.

VAR still has its critics despite receiving FIFA's approval for World Cup use in 2018. Enthusiasts are concerned the requests for video reviews can slow down matches, and that the use of centralized review hubs could be used to skew decisions. Soccer already has plenty of drama over tackles and handballs, they argue — VAR just draws out those disputes and takes away from the thrill of the game.

However, the arguments against the system appear to have lost some momentum. VAR helped reverse 17 out of 20 bad calls during the 2018 World Cup, and some backers have contended that video reviews would have overturned other mistakes if they had been used more consistently. Like it or not, tech is more likely to loom in the background of soccer matches than it has before.

Premier League games will stay on Peacock as NBC Sports Network shuts down

When the clock strikes midnight to ring in 2022 on the east coast, NBC Sports Network will shut down. NBCUniversal will shift much of its sports coverage, including Premier League matches, over to the USA Network.

Assuming more games aren't suspended due to teams having too many COVID-19 cases, Premier League coverage will get off to a flying start on USA Network with three matches on New Year's Day. Arsenal will square off against league leaders Manchester City at 7:30AM ET before Watford host Tottenham and Crystal Palace take on West Ham. Sunday brings a match between Everton and Brighton, before Chelsea host Liverpool in a clash between title contenders.

The shift to USA Network shouldn't change much for Peacock users, though. Overflow games and streaming-only matches will remain on that platform, including three matches that are scheduled to stream on Peacock Premium on Sunday. Some of the bigger games will still air on the main NBC network, and NBCU will continue to broadcast every Premier League match across its multitude of platforms.

It's not clear as yet whether there are plans to broadcast overflow games on other NBCU networks. On the last day of the 2020-21 season, when all 10 matches kicked off at the same time, USA Network, CNBC and the Golf Channel each aired one game.