Prepare for the hottest of hot takes. It may be better for business and television ratings of Fox Sports if the USMNT were to lose to Argentina. That sounds counter-intuitive, especially because the network would have time to hype up the final match up, and the victory could continue to grow the casual fan base of soccer, but hear me out.
After the semi-final games today and tomorrow there are still two more games. Obviously the final game played on Sunday, June 26 is one of them, but soccer tournaments like this still have third place matches. That game will be aired on Saturday, June 25.
If the USMNT pulls off the upset over Argentina, there is a pretty good chance only very few soccer nuts will tune into that third place game. Argentina v. Colombia or Chile doesn’t have any draw to the casual soccer fan. Even with Messi on Argentinian side, it’s tough to convince U.S. viewers to tune into a third place game of two countries they don’t care about — nevermind if Messi doesn’t play.
If Argentina wins, that puts the USMNT in the third place game. Fans will watch to see if the U.S. can somehow place in the tournament. People will continue to get more familiar with the squad and ratings should be ok. Fine, the USMNT won’t be going to the Copa America trophy, but it will still draw more fans than a third place game with Argentina and someone else.
In this scenario Argentina will be in the finals. Fans will watch the finals because well, its the final game and the winner takes Copa America. Messi would undoubtedly play, and Fox essentially would get two games with solid ratings numbers rather than just one if the USMNT made the Sunday match.
It may sound unpatriotic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the ad sales team and executives wouldn’t mind if the USMNT lost today. It may be less exciting for U.S. soccer, but it would be better for Fox Sports’ business.