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The MLS Dynamo have signed a three-year deal with Comcast SportsNet Houston that begins with the upcoming season. The agreement calls for 15-20 games to be on the RSN each season. The arrangement includes pre- and postgame shows, a weekly 30-minute magazine show and a six-episode “all-access” series -- programming that the Dynamo did not have in its most recent broadcast deal with FS Southwest. Financial terms were not disclosed. “To be treated on a major league level with programming alongside the Astros and Rockets is very important for us,” said Dynamo President Chris Canetti (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal). In Houston, David Barron reported the agreement "also continues the team's relationship" with KPRC-NBC, which will air six games this season. The Dynamo will join the Astros and Rockets as the "primary teams featured on CSN Houston, which is available in about 40 percent of the Houston area's 2.2 million television households." CSN Houston President & GM Matt Hutchings said that the team also will be featured on the net's "news and studio talk shows" (CHRON.com, 1/30).
ESPN yesterday announced an alliance with Univisión that will see the Bristol-based network air 20 of the Mexican men's national soccer team’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers and int’l friendlies ahead of next summer’s tournament in Brazil. The move marks the first time a fully distributed, English-language network will consistently broadcast El Tri’s games. The partnership began last night with Mexico's 1-1 draw with Denmark in a friendly and will conclude with the team's last match before the World Cup. It also will allow Univisión Deportes and ESPN to collaborate on special content centered on the Mexican national team. ESPN Senior VP/Programming & Global X Games Scott Guglielmino said, “It’s a sign of the times, if you will, that in terms of our audience, our audience is constantly changing. We’re at a point now both with soccer generally and also the Hispanic population and the Mexican team that we felt the time was right to make this happen.” One reason for the deal is the quality of play from the Mexican team. Guglielmino noted, “The Mexican team is a rising power in our confederation … so for us, it’s about really being able to showcase both of the most prominent national sides, the U.S. and Mexico.” ESPN started running a short creative touting the partnership, and Guglielmino said, “You’ll see some more creative coming out that will not only talk about the Mexican team but also the U.S. team in terms of qualification efforts going into 2014."
COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE: One factor that was not in the equation, according to Guglielmino, was the hotly contested soccer media rights landscape. Fox in '11 won the rights for the '18 and '22 World Cups, while NBC last year won the rights for the EPL for at least three years starting next season, supplanting Fox and ESPN. Other players include Gol TV and upstart beIN Sport, which procured the rights to the U.S. men's national team's away World Cup qualifiers for the '14 event. Guglielmino said of the Mexican games, "They are obviously live, marquee sports content, which is quite valuable right now, but this particular partnership and acquisition wasn’t driven by that. It was driven by our interest in serving a broader audience -- and specifically Hispanic audience -- in an English language.”
Electronic Arts, reporting earnings for its fiscal Q3 late yesterday, said it has sold more than 12 million units of "FIFA 13," representing a 23% increase compared to last year's sales pace. EA also said it generated more than $100M in digital net revenue from "FIFA 13" during Q3 and more than $230M overall from the title during the first three quarters of its fiscal year, with the former figure about twice the level of a year ago. The latest sales figures for "FIFA 13" build upon what already began as the biggest sports game launch of all time. "'FIFA' has emerged as one of the world's top two or three games (regardless of genre)," said EA COO Peter Moore. Overall revenue during the quarter fell to $922M from $1.06B as the publisher, like the rest of the industry, faces the end of the current gaming console cycle. EA narrowed its loss during the period to $45M compared to a $205M loss in the same quarter a year ago.