David Neal to Head Fox Sports Media Group’s World Cup Coverage
Longtime NBC Sports producer David Neal has joined FOX Sports Media Group (FSMG) to develop and execute coverage plans for the FIFA World Cup across all FOX Sports platforms including broadcast, cable and digital.
In a bit of a coup last October, the FIFA Executive Committee awarded FSMG, the exclusive U. S. English-language media rights to FIFA World Cup soccer from 2015 through 2022. Fox swiped the rights from current holding partner ESPN. The deal includes the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup (location TBD), as well as other FIFA events.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have David Neal, the consummate television professional, join us to lead our World Cup coverage and work closely with FOX Soccer,” said John Entz, executive producer at Fox Sports Media Group. “Very few producers have the requisite experience that would qualify them to assume this responsibility, but clearly David does. In his 30 years at NBC he led complex international events like the Olympics, as well as the NBA Finals, World Series and countless others. We expect him to use his talent, vast experience and organizational skills to build and implement FOX’s world-class World Cup coverage.”
Neal’s responsibilities as Executive Producer, WORLD CUP ON FOX include being charged with designing the production infrastructure for FSMG’s stadium and studio operations, as well as forming the on-air, production and technical teams to call and present the action.
Simultaneously, Neal works closely with FIFA, host broadcaster HBS and the local World Cup host organizing committees to implement FOX’s operational plan for each World Cup event. He’ll also work closely with Nathanson and Jonty Whitehead, FOX Soccer’s recently appointed Executive Producer, to expand the network’s programming and business opportunities and production capabilities. In addition to preparing for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Neal is expected to work on next summer’s prestigious CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the FOX Sports family and to welcome the world’s premier sports event to a new home,” says Neal. “I look forward to working with the amazing team here at FOX, and I have no doubt that we’ll work together to make the FIFA WORLD CUP ON FOX into unforgettable television events.”
Prior to joining FSMG, Neal spent two years leading his production company, David Neal Productions, following a storied 30-year tenure with NBC Sports and Olympics, a career encompassing live events, studio shows, documentaries, and anthology programs. In his three decades at NBC, Neal produced nine Olympics, four NBA Finals, two World Series, and a Super Bowl pregame show. In addition to his 34 Emmys, Neal’s creativity and innovation were recognized with a Peabody Award following the 2008 Olympic Summer Games.
At NBC, Neal held dual roles as Executive Vice President of NBC Olympics, responsible for the production, programming and technical engineering departments, along with serving as Executive Producer of NBC Sports, giving him additional responsibility for all sports production.
Neal produced the prime time show and Opening Ceremony during NBC’s coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, which generated an audience of 190 million viewers. The Opening Ceremony drew an audience of 67.5 million, making it the most-watched non-U.S. Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in American television history.
In Beijing 2008, Neal led NBC’s record-breaking coverage (70 million viewers) of the spectacular Opening Ceremony, following two years of planning with legendary Chinese film director Zhang Yimou. NBC’s coverage of Beijing’s Opening Ceremony was recognized with a prestigious Peabody Award, which described the broadcast as, “an exponential magnification of what once was known as a television spectacular.” The Opening Ceremony also earned Primetime Emmy Awards in three categories, including Outstanding Special Class Program.
Beyond the Olympics, Neal produced many other memorable NBC Sports live telecasts, including three of the four most-watched NBA Finals games in U.S. television history: Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals – Michael Jordan’s dramatic final game with the Chicago Bulls (#1, 35.9 million viewers), Game 5 of the 1998 Finals (#3, 30.6 million) and Game 5 of the 1997 Finals (#4, 30.3 million viewers). Neal’s two World Series productions included the thrilling extra-innings win by the Florida Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.
Neal graduated from the University of Southern California in 1978 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Neal’s father – the late Roy Neal – was a much honored and respected NBC News correspondent, producer and executive from 1948-86. Neal was born in Newport News, Virginia, and raised in Woodland Hills, Calif. He now lives with his wife Jen in Los Angeles.