SBJ/April 28-May 4/Media

ESPN, Univision see big World Cup ad sales

Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.

This year’s World Cup, the first to be held in the Western Hemisphere in 20 years, is poised to break ad sales records for the event’s two U.S. media partners.

Executives with both ESPN and Univision credited more attractive game times and added ad sales inventory for the robust market around the event that starts on June 12.

“Both from a ratings perspective and a sales perspective, it will be by far the biggest and best sporting experience that we’ve had on our air ever,” said Carlos Deschapelles, senior vice president for Univision Sports Sales.

Univision, which holds the World Cup’s Spanish-language rights in the United States, has limited ad sales opportunities left around popular matches such as ones involving the United States and Mexico. Also, Deschapelles said it still has positions available during games, around shoulder programming and on its new sports channel, Univision Deportes.

Univision says it’s seeing a lot of activity in the top ad sales categories, particularly with autos, which were not a big ad sales player during the 2010 World Cup because of the economic downturn. Deschapelles said Hyundai, Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Nissan have bought positions during Univision’s coverage.

Beer (Budweiser, Bud Light and Crown Imports), wireless (T-Mobile and Verizon) and movie studios (Walt Disney Motion Pictures, Buena Vista, Warner Bros., Lionsgate Entertainment) also have proved to be strong categories.

Univision has made Univision Deportes a big part of its sales pitch. In addition to showing live games and pregame and postgame shows, the channel will feature shoulder programming around the event.

“We can have a lot more content on that sports network in the form of specials and studio shows and analysis that we didn’t have before,” Deschapelles said.
For example, he pointed to a series that already is running called “The Legends of the World Cup,” which highlights a different World Cup each week, ending with a recap of the 2010 World Cup just before this year’s event kicks off. Univision Deportes launched in April 2012 and is in 34 million homes, according to Nielsen.

Neither Univision nor ESPN would comment on ad sales pricing or ratings projections around the event.

ESPN, which holds the event’s English-language rights in the United States, also is seeing increased interest. Ed Erhardt, ESPN’s president of global sales and marketing, pointed to two official FIFA partners, Adidas and Coca-Cola, as companies that will have a big presence. As usual, FIFA partners and sponsors are making big ad buys, with official partner Visa, and official sponsors Budweiser and McDonald’s aboard. Volkswagen and Hyundai also are rolling out campaigns around the event.

“It is clearly going to be the most significant media event to happen globally in the next couple of years,” Erhardt said. “We believe we will significantly outpace South Africa. We’re bullish on how the property will do, both in terms of its ratings and demand we’re seeing.”

ESPN not only is selling the live games and shoulder programming around them. It is selling spots around replays for some of the daytime games that it will re-air in prime time.

As with its sales efforts around other properties, ESPN is seeing a lot of interest in digital, Erhardt said. ESPN plans to stream the games to authenticated users via its WatchESPN app, and will provide highlights to digital and mobile users.

“We see digital video as a new marketplace that is really developing,” he said.

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