Australian free-to-air broadcaster Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) has announced that it will remain the exclusive Australian broadcast partner of soccer’s showpiece men's FIFA World Cup tournament for its 2026 edition.
Set to be hosted across the US, Canada, and Mexico, SBS will broadcast all of the 104 games of the 2026 World Cup live across its SBS and SBS Viceland channels, and its SBS On Demand streaming platform.
SBS has broadcast games from soccer’s world governing body FIFA since 1986, meaning the 2026 World Cup will be the 40th year of SBS broadcasting FIFA competitions on its network.
James Taylor, SBS managing director, stated: “SBS has been the home of football on Australian television for almost 40 years and we could not be more thrilled to announce that we will broadcast the 2026 tournament from North America, which will have more teams, more matches and draw more eyeballs than ever before.”
The 2026 World Cup has been expanded from previous editions to have 48 teams, an increase of 16 teams in the group stages, meaning the 104 matches that will be played will be a record for a FIFA World Cup.
Both the US and Australia have multiple time zones, meaning there will be as much as a 15-hour time difference between the two countries as the tournament goes on.
In August 2023, FIFA issued the initial invitation to tender for the World Cup’s media rights in Australia, which SBS has now won.
Two separate invitations were sent out, one for the 2026 tournament and another for the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which has yet to confirm a host. A deadline of September 19, 2023 was set for bids.
As Australia hosted the 2023 Women’s World Cup, alongside New Zealand, it means that it must be held by a state in a different footballing federation, potentially meaning another long time zone gap between the hosts and Australia.
The four current active host bids for the tournament are South Africa (from the CAF block), Brazil (from CONMEBOL), and joint bids from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands (UEFA), as well as 2026 hosts Mexico and the US (CONCACAF).