Last week saw Telemundo and NBC Universo unveil their agenda for this summer’s trip to Rio, covering the 2016 Olympic Games and offering more than 200 hours of coverage on the two networks – which will rank as the most in the history of US Spanish-language television. The action begins on Aug. 3 and runs through the 21 with a lineup of over 20 presenters, including Andres Cantor along with Jessica Carrillo and Miguel Gurwitz as hosts. With a spotlight on soccer and other primary targets that include swimming, track and field, boxing, diving, tennis and more, both networks will serve up stories and reports focusing on Olympic athletes from Latin America and the United States, including Mexican diver Paola Espinosa and Taekwondo practitioner María del Rosario Espinoza, Guatemalan race walker Erick Barrondo, Colombian cyclists Mariana Pajon and Nairo Quintana, US gymnast Danell Leyva and Costa Rican sprinter Nery Brenes,
Cynopsis Sports chatted with Eli Velazquez, Executive Vice President for Sports at NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, about the coverage, the upfronts and the company’s overall sports strategy.
Velazquez on the state of sports: Our dedication to sports at our organization is strong. In the last year, we were able to execute, as part of our association with FIFA, the Women’s World Cup, we got a worldwide exclusive with Gianni Infantino of FIFA, we were nominated in multiple categories for Emmys, and we’ve upped the ante on our Premier League coverage. When you consider that we do not have a sports-only network, one of the things that we are very proud of is that we are very impactful in key moments and strategic in such a way that we are still a force to be reckoned with for our audience and our competitors.
On the evolution of audiences: Clearly, consumption – not only in our space but in the general space as well – has changed dramatically. Consumers, viewers and users have more choices and convenience when they are consuming their content. At the end of the day, we’ve evolved our coverage and our thinking to address the interactive nature of how consumers expect to experience their sports. Whether it is our work to innovate around Facebook Live where in our space we did a soccer pregame show for the first time on the platform during World Cup qualifying coverage in March, or whether it is on social media with technological enhancements that a lot of us enjoy like Tagboard, where you can curate content in real-time, not just on the digital side but also on the linear platforms. I think the evolution of our business is an exciting to create and fine ways to get to people in different ways and with different experiences. We are focused primarily on making sure we are addressing all of those desires for our consumers.
On this year’s upfront: I think the upfront is always an important opportunity to highlight what it is we are doing across the genres where we are producing content. I think part of the message will be that we are fully addressing as a company – NBC Universal and Telemundo Enterprises – the evolution of choice and the fact that the consumer now has put us on notice that they would like us to push the envelope and raise the bar and we are up for the challenge.
On the Olympics: We are excited because for the first time ever, we will have coverage across two networks with NBC Universo. We are also excited be the fact that we will, for the first time as well, have event coverage in primetime on specific nights where the soccer discipline is in action. We also know that with the games being in Rio makes it a beautiful backdrop for the game. Our approach has always been to deliver the complete Olympic experience to the Hispanic audience. When I say that, it means that we will be covering the countries that resonate with our viewers and the stories they generate. Team USA, for example, we like to call them El Equipo de Todos, which means “everyone’s team,” and we have to have something to say about Michael Phelps, for example, and the big storylines that people will be following. Lastly, one of the promises we made in 2012, and it continues today, is that we will deliver in one form or another, every Hispanic Olympian’s story of their performance at the games. We have shot over 100 profiles already and we will believe that that will be a key as well.
On Rio: It is a very colorful backdrop for these Games. We will absolutely cover the ins and outs, not just of the games themselves, but also the experience of the Games in Rio – the culture, the ambiance, and living through the eyes of the folks attending the Olympics in Rio, as well as the nightlife and history of the city.