07/22/19: Univision Sports President Rodriguez breaks the the company’s shift to TUDN

 

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Monday July 22, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Saturday saw a transformation in sports media as Univision Deportes officially rebranded as TUDN as part of a cross-border partnership with Mexico’s Grupo Televisa. Stateside, Univision Deportes Network is now known as TUDN, with TUDN branding also running across sports telecasts on Univision Network, UniMás, Galavisión and across their audio and digital platforms with Univision and Televisa sharing both programming and talent.
 
Cynopsis Sports asked Juan Carlos Rodriguez, President of Sports at Univision Communications, about the brand overhaul, its new partnership and what fans can expect.
 
Rodriguez on the year so far: What stands out so far this year is the acceleration in the rise of soccer in this country, as well as the recognition of that growth within the industry. When we launched Univision Deportes Network in 2012, we made a big bet on soccer. Rather than launch a sports network that would be all things to all people, we decided to focus primarily on a sport that our community was passionate about and where we saw massive potential for growth.
 
This year, we completed the most-watched UEFA Champions League season in U.S. television history, regardless of language. We’ve seen immense interest in Liga MX, which remains the most-watched soccer league in the U.S., and garnered tremendous viewership for this summer’s Gold Cup amid a crowded summer of soccer. The U.S. women’s team, of course, has also been a boon for the sport throughout the country, and we’re excited to bring fans all of the action from their upcoming victory tour. We expect increased interest in the women’s game will generate even more growth for us, from the U.S. women to Liga MX Femenil.
 
On this year’s biggest surprise: If I have to pick one, it would be UEFA Champions League. When we launched the season we knew it was going to be a successful one, but we were not expecting to see the results we had. Shattering records in our first season was definitely a positive surprise, now we are very excited with what we can do as TUDN as we start our second UEFA Champions League season in September.
 
On the rebrand: When we decided to take this next step in our collaboration with Televisa, we knew we needed a single brand that would work in the U.S. and Mexico. It couldn’t just be Univision Deportes or Televisa Deportes anymore. The new brand honors the history of both companies, but more importantly it will be a constant declaration to viewers that this is ‘Your Sports Network.’ ‘TU’ means ‘your’ in Spanish. The new tagline, ‘Vivimos TU Pasion’, which translate to ‘We Live Your Passion,’ reinforces that idea that everything we do here is for fútbol fanáticos by fútbol fanáticos. They are at the core of everything we do and we wanted a brand and a tagline that would empower them and encourage them to interact with our brand and our content.
 
On the partnership with Televisa: This TUDN initiative is the natural evolution of a long-standing partnership between Univision and Televisa, mostly on the entertainment side, but more recently in sports. It has allowed us to continue building on our four pillars: an unparalleled portfolio of Soccer rights, the most robust talent team in all Spanish-speaking media in the world, the use of the latest technology and a 360 ecosystem covering over-the-air TV, cable, radio, digital and social. Combining the resources of our respective sports divisions dramatically increases the amount of live and original programming we’ll be able to deliver on the network – up to 40 hours more per week. Since we made our foray into European soccer, which generally airs in the afternoon, daytime programming has become a much bigger priority for us. This additional programming will ensure we are providing live and original content from early in the morning through late at night.
 
On benefits: By partnering with Televisa, we’ll also dramatically expand our roster of talent. Imagine covering the NFL and bringing together the top talent from CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and the NFL Network – that’s essentially what we’re doing with soccer by bringing our experts together with Televisa’s. The other benefit is that we are bringing experts on many other sports which will allow us to better cover and inform our audience beyond the world of soccer. Thanks to our expanded talent and production resources, we’ll now have live coverage from the training grounds of all 19 Liga MX teams on a daily basis and be able to provide more thorough coverage of the NFL, NBA, MLB and combat sports. Televisa is also regarded as a leader in broadcast technology, which will enhance our already-stellar on-screen capabilities.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

ESPN mapped out plans to carry a record 345 Little League Baseball and Softball games in 2019 on its platforms, including the full championship events from all divisions for the first time. The record slate will span ABC, ESPN’s linear networks and ESPN+, will showcase all Little League Baseball and Softball U.S. regional and World Series action. The month-plus schedule culminates with the 73rd Little League Baseball World Series from Aug. 15-25. ESPN’s coverage of Little League Baseball begins Aug. 1 with the first game of the Southwest Regional Tournament and ESPN, ESPN2, Longhorn Network and ESPN+ showcasing all 88 regional tournament games across the eight U.S. divisions.
 
Coming off a World Cup victory, the reigning FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, U.S. Women’s National Team, will return to FOX tomorrow at 8p in the one-hour special: USA Champions: The Story of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Stars Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle, Crystal Dunn, Kelly O’Hara, Alyssa Naeher and coach Jill Ellis look back at their journey and share their personal stories. The special is produced by Jennifer Pransky.
 
The World Series of Boxing appears to be down for the count, according to a report from Inside the Games, with the organization suspended indefinitely and set to be disbanded after the International Boxing Association confirmed it could not fulfil its agreement with the competition’s main investor. AIBA executive director Tom Virgets told the site that the series was “inactive” and would not resume unless significant investment can be found.
 
The WTA Finals in Shenzhen this October will now reward the champion with the largest ever prize money in tennis history. A player who wins all three of their round-robin matches in addition to the semi-final and the final will earn $4.725 million as the prize money. The tournament is being sponsored by title sponsor Shiseido, who along with the Chinese Tennis Association, Shenzhen City Government and the Gemdale Group.
 
Mark your calendars! Sept 10-12 will see the return of the Esports Business Summit, the industry’s biggest esports business event, and we haven’t event announced some of our biggest names yet! Take in days of networking, outings, play, awards and a bevy of C-level executives and global brands sharing their insights into opportunities in competitive gaming. Click here for more information and get your tickets now!
 
MLB and YouTube’s partnership saw the platform’s first exclusive broadcast on Thursday reel in over 200,000 concurrent viewers at peak of the Phillies’ win over the Dodgers, according to Google. The first outing of the 13-game slate on the platform also saw more than 2 million views on the league’s official channel.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The BIG3 announced a brand-new major basketball festival, “BIG3 Ballout,” that will head to Dallas on Aug. 17 with additional events throughout the weekend. The festival will feature all six weekly games on one day at American Airlines Center in addition to musical performances on-court, a series of Young3 clinics for area youth throughout the weekend, and meet and greets for fans with players.  “As a league, we want to continue to be innovative and provide our fans with a truly first-class experience, and there is no better way than this groundbreaking festival and celebration of basketball,” said BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz. “This will be a star-studded entertainment event with world-class musicians and athletes in a beautiful city with a rich basketball tradition.”  
 
Ally Financial inked a multi-year agreement with the Charlotte Soccer Bid Team that designates Ally as the founding and lead partner of a potential Major League Soccer team in Charlotte and the Carolinas. Aside from marketing efforts, Ally plans to leverage its partnership with the Bid Team to further demonstrate its commitment to the local community. “We believe in being a relentless ally for the community, just as much as we believe in being a relentless ally for our customers,” said Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing and public relations officer, Ally. “Charlotte is a place where we live, work, and play, so we know how much of a soccer town this is – and how much soccer can impact our community.”
 
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights locked in a new stadium naming-rights deal with IT provider SHI International. The venue will now be known as SHI Stadium as part of the seven-year deal that runs through the 2025-26 academic school year. Previously, Rutgers’ naming-rights for its football stadium belonged to High Point Solutions.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

NBA 2K20 is partnering with United Masters to create a 30-song playlist with artists that include Drake, Nipsey Hussle, Travis Scott, Post Malone, and more. All songs were chosen by game publisher 2K and validated by UnitedMasters, with the two companies announcing their collaboration at ComplexCon Chicago. In addition, the two will hunt for 10 addition songs to be added to the soundtrack, opening the doors for artists to submit their track through the brand-new UnitedMasters app.
 
 
ESPORTS

Meanwhile, the NBA 2K League and SNICKERS cemented a new partnership that makes Snickers the Official Chocolate Bar of the NBA 2K League. The esports league will now select the SNICKERS “Hungriest Player to Watch” each game night for the rest of the 2019 season, including the 2019 NBA 2K League Playoffs and Finals, which tip off July 24.
 
Recording artist Wiz Khalifa is entering the esports industry, partnering with the Pittsburgh Knights where he will bring his “expertise in creative direction, marketing, live events and entertainment.” “It is awesome to partner with the Knights, alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers, on this exciting endeavor,” says Wiz Khalifa. “The Knights are pushing the boundaries in the e-sports space with an experienced team. Being based in Pittsburgh, my hometown, a city known for bringing home championships, I am pumped to be a part of this moment in history kicking off another winning team for the city.”
 
Members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports approved a number of new bylaws and constitution changes designed to “allow the organization to better enforce its rules and curb the trend of player poaching between schools,” according to ESPN. Among the new rules were laws to allow schools to distribute prize money earned at third-party tournaments to their players regardless of what kind of scholarship dollars a school provides its competitors.
 
 
INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

The XFL continues to shore up its rosters announcing a slate of five new hires: Russ Giglio as Director of Player Administration; Lisa Milner Goldberg as the head of communications for XFL, Los Angeles; Jim Baral as Senior Director of Partnerships for XFL LA; Allen Barrett as head of communications for XFL Tampa Bay; and Charles Hampton as head of communications for XFL Houston.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Red Sox/Rays on ESPN at 7p.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1963: Sonny Liston KOs Floyd Patterson in the first round.
 
In the Know: Which Ivy League school has won the most conference football championships? (Hint: there is a tie, but I only need one of them.) (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your company and city).
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What was the team name for the Barcelona franchise in the WLAF/NFL Europe? Answer: The Dragons. Kudos: Brook Gardiner-NBCUniversal/NY; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Michael Goodman-Radio One/Atlanta; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Jacob Ullman-FOX Sports/LA

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