Gulati cheers Univision's commitment to U.S. national team coverage

As part of the trio of major media rights deals announced today by MLS and U.S. Soccer, Univision has committed to pay $120 million for broadcast rights to the properties over the next eight years. But in addition to that financial commitment, Univision Deportes President Juan Carlos Rodriquez’s pledge that his network will cover the U.S. national team with the same fervor that it covers the Mexican squad is a point from the deals that makes Sunil Gulati smile.

“The increased attention to the U.S. national team is a huge plus,” said Gulati, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. “It’s a positive reflection of our growing Hispanic and Latino fan base. While there’s always been a Hispanic presence on the team, it’s growing. As our fans see more coaches, scouts and, frankly, players that look like them on the field, they are relating to the team and following us in larger numbers. And when the team is performing well on the field, that helps to attract viewers from all communities.”

Univision won exclusive Spanish-language rights to all U.S. men’s national team matches and pledged to telecast at least four women’s national team matches each year of the new deal as well. While negotiating the deal, Rodriguez told Soccer United Marketing (MLS’s commercial arm, which represents U.S. Soccer) that Univision would provide the U.S. with an equal level of coverage it gives the Mexican national team.

Gulati detailed the reasons why, in his view, Univision has an increased interest in the American team.

“We’re seeing more Latino players involved in our development academy,” Gulati said. “That’s probably the market Univision is aiming for as they try to retain younger U.S.-born Hispanics. In 2013, we had nine players on the U-20 FIFA World Cup team that were of Hispanic descent. Our current U-20 team has 14 Hispanic players. There are even a few fan groups, like Latinos for Team USA, that support the U.S. team. Univision is seeing that it’s very much in their best interest to increase coverage of the U.S. team, and it’s certainly beneficial to us as we continue to grow the game.”

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