ESPN To Broadcast World Cup Qualifiers Of Mexican Men's National Soccer Team
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.”