A Fiesta of Games
Networks reach viewers on every available turf
By Melanie M. Clarke -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/21/2004 7:00:00 PM
Sports speaks a universal language, making Spanish broadcasts muy caliente for Hispanic networks and the nearly 11 million Hispanic households they serve. Spanish-language general-entertainment and full-time sports networks provide enough programming to make the World Cup runneth over.
From Univision to ESPN Deportes, the networks are covering up-and-coming Hispanic boxing talent that won't be on pay-per-view. Nationalistic pride keeps viewers tuned in to see fighters from their home countries and classic rivalries, such as Mexico vs. Puerto Rico. Soccer, always a big draw in Hispanic households, is another mega-ratings scorer. And that's just for openers. Here's a look at what the major networks are planning in 2004:
Telemundo offers Mexican men's regional soccer games and has exclusive rights to its weekly broadcasts of games for men's soccer teams Atlante and Chiapas through 2006 on its Sábado de Fútbol. Also, the network has exclusive rights to selected men's Olympics and World Cup qualifying soccer games.
Thanks to NBC, Telemundo is going to the Olympics in Athens this summer to independently produce shows focused on specific sports and athletes. Says Vice President of Sports Jorge Idalgo, "I'm delivering something I know my viewers want to see."
The network is also broadcasting 15 NBA games exclusive to the general market, featuring teams from cities with large Spanish-speaking populations, including Dallas, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, and New York.
The Univision Television Networks (Univision, TeleFutura, and cable network Galavision) broadcast more than 200 Mexican League soccer games on its Fútbol Liga Mexicana. It also airs the Copa America and Gold Cup tournaments, with exclusive rights for Univision to broadcast the FIFA World Cup in 2006. Liga increased ratings for the network 16% from 2002 to 2004.
Univision also offers sports news. President of Sports David Downs considers it important to serve the Spanish-language fans in the U.S. by giving them a product "uniquely appealing and available."
TeleFutura offers Solo Boxeo on Friday nights through agreements directly with promoters, such as Oscar de le Hoya's company Golden Boy. According to Nielsen, TeleFutura reaches 462,000 Hispanic households in the U.S. and received a 4.4 rating for 2004 through the week ended Feb. 29. ESPN2 reaches about 500,000 U.S. households with its Friday-night boxing and earned a 0.5 rating for the same time period. Call it a TKO.
Fox Sports en Español
From its inception in 1997, Fox Sports en Español has grown an impressive lineup: six soccer leagues, four baseball leagues, four sports anthology programs, two sports news programs, professional boxing, NASCAR, and postseason soccer. Via a sublicensing agreement with Fox Broadcasting, the network airs Major League Baseball playoffs and the World Series. Independently, it brings first-run broadcasts of games from the Dominican, Venezuelan, and Puerto Rican baseball leagues. FSE holds exclusive rights to broadcast the Caribbean World Series. An added bonus: Premios Fox Sports, an annual awards show dedicated to the accomplishments of U.S. Hispanic and Latin American athletes.
ESPN Deportes converted from a Sunday-night block into a 24/7 sports net on Jan. 7 with the largest lineup of all the Spanish-language nets. Its soccer lineup includes the European UEFA, four other international leagues, and the World Cup. Friday Night Fights offers boxing via an ESPN feed that features Spanish-language graphics and commentary.
Tennis broadcasts include Wimbledon, the French Open, and the Mexican Open. PGA Tour events allow viewers to see favorites Sergio Garcia and Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal in Spanish. ESPN Deportes now has carriage with Cox, Charter, and NCTC and has just signed on with Insight in 1.4 million households in the Midwest. The network also carries NBA, MLB, and NFL, as well as motor sports. "The Latino sports fans," says General Manager Lino Garcia, "have an affinity for many different sports."
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