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Follow the Bouncing Ball

8/13/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

In the world of soccer, there are a
number of givens. With all of the
club tours, “friendly” matches and
FIFA World Cup qualifiers — not to mention
league play and myriad
competitions — the
ball and the attendant
media rights continually
roll. Moreover,
Lat inos love the
world’s game.

Looking to roll into the U.S. distribution
ranks with rights to a trio of top
European leagues is BeIn Sport, which is
eyeing the Aug. 15 launch of Spanish- and
English-language services.

While the distribution and sports
communities wait to see the level of
carriage that rookie outlet (backed by
Al Jazeera Sports) can secure, there’s
also interest in what comes from next
month’s tender for U.S. rights to England’s
Barclays Premier League, starting
with the 2013-14 season. Perhaps
further down the road, these networks
will get a look at a proposal for a Western
Hemisphere national-team tournament
in 2016, featuring teams from North
America (CONCACAF) and South America
(CONMEBOL). For more immediate
results, before checking your programming
guide for match specifi cs for 2012-
13, check out this alphabetically ordered
guide to varied properties held by Spanish-
language soccer networks.

Neymar at Olympics


BeIn Sport

Key Properties: La Liga, La Ligue Un,
Ser ie A, Copa
America, Football
League Championship

Perhaps the biggest
change on the soccer front is the
arrival of BeIn Sport, which is scheduled
to kick off a pair of channels, one
in Spanish, the other in English, on Aug.
15. They come bearing rights to three
top European leagues: Spain’s La Liga,
France’s premier division, La Ligue Un
(English-only), and Italy’s
Serie A.

In a recent interview,
Antonio Briceño,
vice president of affiliate
sales for Miamiheadquartered
Imagina
US, which is handling
affiliate sales, said it’s “99% sure there
will be at least one distributor at launch,
and two continues to be the goal.”

At press time, BeIn Sport, which also
holds a host of other cup competitions
and the Football League Championship,
England’s second-division circuit, had
not yet announced any deals.

Given a dispute between Spanish
media companies Prisa TV and Mediapro
over rights for La Liga’s 20 teams,
including world-renowned clubs FC
Barcelona and Real Madrid, some TVindustry
observers question whether
BeIn Sport actually holds all stateside
rights for the circuit.

It’s also unclear whether BeIn Sport,
as reports indicate, is willing to pay
license fees in exchange for carriage.

ESPN Deportes

Properties: UEFA Europa League, Copa
MX, Brazilian Leagues, Barclays Premier
League

ESPN Deportes
has made a number
of additions to
its soccer programming
roster, coming off the Nielsen success
of the UEFA Euro 2012 competition,
when its 27 telecasts averaged a 4.2 Hispanic
rating and 324,000 viewers, respective
gains of 50% and 138% from the
2008 competition.

Perhaps chief among them is the Europa
League, the second-level club competition
from the continent. ESPN
Deportes is scheduled to air more than
60 matches.

“Depending on the players and the
teams, moving down [after being eliminated]
from the Champions League, our
viewers may have more interest in Europa
than in the Champions,” general
manager Lino Garcia said.

The network, which has rights to select
games from Liga MX, kicked off its
56-match slate from the new two-part
tournament called Copa MX on July 20.
The first-half Apertura features 14 clubs
from the nation’s top circuit and its
second-level counterpart. The Clausura
showcases 11 and 13 teams, respectively.
“It’s a tournament that was played in
1997. They’ve gotten creative and reinstituted
it,” Garcia said.

Complementing continued coverage from Brazil’s Paulista & Brasileiro, the
Premier League, U.S. Major League Soccer
and the German Bundesliga, ESPN
Deportes is adding 34 matches from the
Dutch Eredivisie this season.

Fox Deportes


Properties:
UEFA Champions League,
Barclays Premier League, Copa Libertadores,
Copa Sudamericana

Vincent Cordero said the Fox Deportes
soccer lineup is not only about quantity,
but quality.

“We have the biggest and best of European
club soccer with the UEFA Champions
League and
the [Barclays Premier
League],
which is arguably
the biggest
sports league in
the world,” the
network’s executive
vice president
and general
manager said of
the properties that also air on Fox Soccer
and premium service Fox Soccer Plus.
“Latino Americans enjoy our tentpole programming
from Europe.”

Fox Deportes’ soccer programming pillars
are also rooted in the Western Hemisphere,
with the top- and second-level club
annual competitions from South America,
Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.
With the former unfolding from
January through July and the latter from
July through December, the 18 million-subscriber
network presents CONMEBOLsanctioned
action year-round.

“Our viewers are very excited by these
longstanding competitions that are pillars
of our lineup,” Cordero said.

With matches from Liga MX, Mexico’s
top division, among other properties,
Fox Deportes offers 1,300 original hours
of soccer competition annually among its
2,000 event hours, the most of any network
targeting U.S. Latino sports fans, according
to Cordero.

As part of its expansive news and analysis
lineup, Fox Deportes is on the pitch
with daily soccer show, El Ultima Palabra
(The Final Word).

Gol TV

Properties: Bundesliga, Brazilian
leagues, Argentina/
Brazil international
matches, European
World Cup qualifiers

The past year has
been a busy one for GolTV, the hybrid service
that off ers feeds in both Spanish and
English. The programmer has inked key
extensions, but suffered a difficult defection
to BeIn Sport.

“We didn’t like to lose La Liga, which
was integral to the growth of GolTV since
2003,” chief operating officer Rodrigo Lombello
said of the 15 million-subscriber service.
But we’ve added other properties and
games that will help us grow.”

Lombello said the three-season renewal
of the Bundesliga was key, as the German
circuit is widely considered by Europeans
to be the second best behind the English
Premier League. The four-year agreement
for continued coverage of Brasileirão and
Campeonato Paulista has strong appeal
for the service’s Latino audience. Brazil’s
Neymar, arguably the world’s top player,
is on display for his club Santos, as well as
on the national team.

“We had some Argentina and Brazil
matches, but with nowhere near the consistency
or the number of matches,” Lombello
said, noting that deals call for up to
15 matches per club. The June 9 Argentina-
Brazil contest notched the network’s biggest
audience ever among the 18-to-49
demo.

The network also holds the rights to a
number of European friendlies and World
Cup qualifiers, and has added a pair of
weekly matches from ASCENSO, Mexico’s
second-division league, to its roster.

Telemundo

Properties: Olympics 2012-20, World Cup
2018-22, Mexican World Cup qualifiers,
Chivas de Guadalajara

Telemundo’s soccer properties are
a nchored by
big events. The
NBCUniversalowned
network
has just completed
its Olympic
coverage from
London, with
the gold-medal
match between
Mexico and Brazil
certain to net giant ratings.

Chivas

“Everybody’s going to be watching that
one,” Jorge Hidalgo, senior executive vice
president of Telemundo Network Sports,
said of the Aug. 11 match at Wembley Stadium.

Also on the roster are U.S. Spanishlanguage
rights for the FIFA World Cup in
2018 and 2022, as Telemundo outbid incumbent
Univision.

The broadcaster also holds exclusive TV,
broadband and mobile rights in the U.S. for
eight Mexican national team CONCACAF
qualifying matches leading up to the 2014
World Cup in Brazil.

“The qualifiers produce record-setting
numbers with the national team,”
Hidalgo said.

On the club front, Telemundo will present
Chivas de Guadalajara telecasts through
the next two seasons (ending next May) of
Liga MX, the top Mexican circuit.

“We made a fiscally responsible offer
to retain Chivas. Univision defined new
terms,” Hidalgo said, saying Telemundo is
always looking at new properties. NBCU
officials expect to announce a new rights
deal shortly.

Univision

Properties: Liga MX, Mexican National
Team, Copa MX, FIFA World Cup 2014

With rights to 12 of the 18 clubs in Liga
MX, Mexico’s top circuit, Univision offers
the most-watched soccer league in
the United States, topping Barclays Premier
League views by 126% among persons
18 to 49.

Now, the programmer
is expanding
reach
through t he
launch of sports
outlet Univ ision
Deportes,
which has already
gained distribution
berths
on Dish Network,
AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS TV and
will soon debut on Cablevision Systems’s
Optimum cable systems.

“The Univision Deportes network gives
us another outlet for soccer,” vice president
of programming Eric Conrad said.
“Considering the sheer number of games,
200, and Univision’s commitment to entertainment
content, there just wasn’t
enough room for matches and all of the
support programming that soccer warrants.”

Univision is also scoring with Mexican
national team friendlies and World Cup
qualifiers leading up to its coverage from
FIFA’s 2014 event in Brazil.

“Having Mexican national team rights
is very important for Univision and its
viewers. Their level of passion and interest
is amazing,” Conrad said. El Tri’s Feb. 29
match against Colombia reached 8 million
viewers, averaging 4.3 million watchers.
That was Univision’s top futbol audience
of the year to date.

That mark could fall on Aug. 15, when
the U.S. visits Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium
for a friendly match between the
cross-border rivals for the first time in 20
years.

The network also recently signed a key
rights agreement, becoming the new multiplatform
home to Chivas de Guadalajara
beginning in July 2013. Chivas only takes
the field with players of Mexican heritage
within the league, across all tournaments
and friendlies. Telemundo currently holds
some of those rights.

“Given the composition of our audience,
Chivas is an especially important
team,” Conrad said.

TAKEAWAY

New entrants are changing
the landscape for soccer on
U.S. television — particularly
among the futbol-mad Hispanic
demographic

September