Advertiser interest in Spanish-language television continues
to grow as viewership increases, and the ratings success of Univision and Telemundo,
among others, has been well documented. But there's another competitive battle
going on among the Spanish-language all-sports networks, particularly between
Fox Deportes and ESPN Deportes, and right now it is Fox Deportes that's winning
the viewership battle.
In May primetime, Fox Deportes averaged 78,000 viewers per
night, 32% more than ESPN Deportes' average of 59,000, according to Nielsen
data. Fox Deportes also averaged 47,000 adults 18-49, 34% more than ESPN
Deportes' average of 35,000.
Total-day ratings for May were closer with Fox Deportes
averaging 49,000 viewers compared to 39,000 for ESPN Deportes, a difference of
26%. Among adults 18-49, Fox Deportes averaged 32,000 viewers compared to
24,000 for ESPN Deportes, a difference of 33%.
On weekend days in May, Fox Deportes' lead was more
dominant, averaging 71,000 viewers compared to ESPN Deportes' 27,000 viewers, a
difference of 163%. And among adults 18-49, Fox Deportes averaged 45,000
viewers, 200% more than ESPN Deportes' 15,000.
On a percentage basis, the May dominance by Fox Deportes was
actually lower than January through May numbers. For primetime January through
May, Fox Deportes holds a 43% lead in total viewers and a 40% lead in 18-49
viewers. For total day, the Fox Deportes lead is 37% for total day and 41% for
the 18-49 demo. While for weekend day, the Fox Deportes lead is 107% for total
viewers and 129% for 18-48 viewers.
The numbers for Fox Deportes are particularly impressive
because three years ago, before the network changed its name from Fox Sports en
Español and began a total revamping of its programming, ESPN Deportes was the
ratings leader among Spanish-language sports networks in the U.S.
In mid-2010, Vincent Cordero joined Fox Sports en Español as
executive VP and general manager and he and his team started the process of
relaunching the network as Fox Deportes.
"When I came in three years ago, we were simply a Latin
American soccer network in the U.S.," Cordero says. "My mission was to redefine
the network, expand its programming and its audience to serve the entire U.S.
Under Cordero's watch, Fox Deportes invested heavily in its
daily sports news show Central Fox;
acquired the rights to high-profile European soccer league telecasts; expanded
Major League Baseball coverage to include more regular-season games, MLB
playoffs and exclusive Hispanic rights to the World Series; added NASCAR
coverage, college football and professional boxing via an exclusive deal with
Oscar de la Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions; and added UFC matches.
"We moved the network into U.S. sports and diversified our
audience," Cordero says. "Last year, we televised the most college football
games of any Spanish-language network."
From January through May, Central Fox on Monday through Friday averaged 42,000 viewers per
night, compared to ESPN Deportes' SportsCenter,
which has averaged 37,000 viewers, a difference of 14%. Central Fox has
also averaged 30,000 viewers 18-49 compared to 26,000 for ESPN Deportes' SportsCenter,
a difference of 15%.
The Fox Deportes soccer talk show, La Ultima Palabra
has averaged 64,000 viewers vs. ESPN Deportes' soccer show Futbol Picante, which has averaged 55,000 viewers,
a difference of 16%. Among 18-49 demo viewers, La Ultima Palabra holds a
19% lead, 44,000 to 37,000.
And something Cordero is also proud of -- Fox Deportes has
1.62 million Facebook fans, about four times as many as ESPN Deportes and five
times as many as Univision Deportes.
The battle for viewers between Fox Deportes and ESPN
Deportes is ongoing, but Cordero believes his network is going to be able to
grow its audience even more once Fox Sports 1 premieres in August.
"We've made all these inroads and overtook ESPN Deportes
when they had the support of a 24-hour English-language sports network in
ESPN," Cordero says. "Now we're going to have the support of Fox Sports 1."
Cordero says he's been meeting with Fox Sports 1 executives
to discuss ways in which the two networks can cross-promote and also share
programming. He says they've already reached a deal where Golden Boy
Promotions' boxing will air matches on Fox Sports 1.
"We're a family," Cordero says. "We will support each other
fully. Fox Sports 1 will be a huge resource for us, and we will be for them,
and we will drive viewers to each other."