As the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 gets ready to run starting June 17, Telemundo is looking to maximize its role as the Spanish-language home of the tournament as the company amplifies its role with FIFA that will include the World Cup next year for the first time. Overall, Telemundo is shipping around 150 reporters, technicians, producers and other staff to Russia for the Cup this week, marking “the most significant commitment of resources the Spanish-language network has made to a soccer tournament in its 33-year history” and even launching a campaign for the tournament, titled “This is Only the Beginning,” to trumpet its investment. Overall, the tournament runs June 17- July 2 with all matches running live, with 14 on Telemundo and two on Universo, in addition to streaming via TelemundoDeportes.com and the Telemundo Deportes EN VIVO App. Broadcasts will be supplemented by special pre and post-game programming, daily editions of Titulares y Mas, and news and analysis on TelemundoDeportes.com.
With a huge year ahead, Cynopsis Sports spoke with Telemundo Deportes President Ray Warren about taking the position last year, expectations for its Cup broadcasts and the road ahead for the network.
Warren on moving to Telemundo: In May of 2016, I got a call from inside of NBC that said that a position as President of Telemundo Deportes would be opening up and they had the World Cup for the next three cycles. They wanted to build a brand and build a business, would I be interested. I said absolutely. When I met with Cesar (Conde), he asked why I was so interested in the position and I told him that the answer was “curiosity.” I already knew the power of sports, and I knew the power of fans of their teams, and I had always been interested in the World Cup. Fans of teams go crazy when their team is in the World Series, but entire countries go crazy when they team is in the World Cup. It is a bigger canvas that is the crown jewel of regional sports. Introducing the World Cup to the NBCUniversal company to me was a high honor.
On the role of sports at Telemundo: The analogy that I use is that Telemundo Deportes has been a True Value Hardware store, a nice business with good quality. But when we got the World Cup, we are now going to be a Home Depot. We paid for the rights to be that big, and that’s part of what I’m working on, which is the transition from being a small, great part of a large company to a big, great part of a large company. When I got here, all the signs here said “World Cup Ready” but after a couple of weeks, I changed them to “World Cup Great,” because I believe that being great is what we need to be.
On the challenges of putting Telemundo’s stamp on the World Cup: Having been at NBC and Comcast for the nine years prior to joining, I have a really good understanding of how big this company is and how amazing the assets are and how cooperative every division is. One of the challenges is getting those assets in place, and from a marketing point of view, everything is clicking so there will be a very high awareness that we have not only the World Cup but also the Confederations Cup.
On the Confederations Cup: Speaking of the Confederations Cup is for us, but the only one I will accept is calling it off-Broadway. I’ve heard it called a dress rehearsal or a test run, but those are all without audiences. We are going to have an audience and being off-Broadway a place where you take your show out, you have an audience, you provide some entertainment and you learn from the experience so you are better when you get to Broadway. We are in great shape for the Confederations Cup, we have NBC Sports’ help, and their experience is already a big help for us.
On upfronts/advertiser reception: The one thing about sports is that the money follows the eyeballs and the eyeballs follow the event. So, I am confident – but not arrogant – about the fact that anyone who wants to watch the World Cup in the Spanish language will know that it is on Telemundo Deportes. Other companies that used to have the World Cup like to tout that more people think the tournament is on their network, but I guarantee you that when I leave this company, 100% of the people will know the World Cup is on Telemundo.