Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Cynopsis Media presents: Hispanic Sports: Fan Engagement and Sponsorship…a
11/14/12

Good Morning it’s still Wednesday, November 14, 2012 and this is a special edition focusing on an audience that has grown increasingly important to the sports world, the Spanish-speaking fan and how this consumer base is impacting the sports industry.

By Chris Pursell

A Chat with Univision’s Juan Carlos Rodriguez

Fresh off of inking a ten-year deal with CONCACAF to give Univision Spanish and Portuguese U.S. broadcast rights to the organization’s tournaments, Juan Carlos Rodriguez continues to cement his legacy at the helm as one of the most influential drivers in sports as the new President of Univision Deportes. He joined Univision Deportes from Televisa Deportes Network where he served as CEO and grew the brand into Mexico’s sports content brand of choice. Prior to Televisa Deportes Network, Mr. Rodriguez was co-founder and CEO of Grupo Estadio. Under his leadership, Grupo Estadio became the leading partner for DIRECTV to produce and distribute the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Cynopsis Sports asked Rodriguez about his vision for sports at Univision, how audiences are evolving and what is causing advertisers to make a new push into the demographic.

Rodriguez on what intrigued him about the job: Sports programming has long been one of the strongest offerings for Univision and one that has consistently delivered audience loyalty. Uniquely positioned with a 50-year legacy, strong brand equity and an integrated multimedia sports platform which includes broadcast and pay TV, radio, online and mobile apps – Univision delivers the live sports, news and entertainment Hispanics audiences crave.

On his immediate and long-term goals with the company: Univision has built a 50-year relationship with Hispanics and has established a reputation as a leader in sports programming. Sports are nothing new for us and we will continue to focus on delivering content that is relevant to Hispanics. Our immediate goal was to be the undisputed home of Mexican soccer. We also focused our efforts on providing leading coverage on international soccer – which also includes Major League Soccer – boxing, Hispanic athletes and U.S. sports news that is relevant to Hispanics. Additionally, we upped our original sports programming from 1,700 hours to 10,000 hours, the most sports programming in our history. Our production capabilities now allow us to produce three relevant daily shows for “hard core” sports audiences.

We’ve also built momentum securing broadcast rights for stellar sports properties. We just announced a historic 10-year deal with CONCACAF. Earlier this year we announced the acquisition of Liga MX’s Chivas de Guadalajara – effective July 2013, the deal includes all languages. We also recently announced Univision Deportes’ first rights acquisition of European teams that includes the German National Team and the DFB Cup, the French National Team and the French Cup, and France’s Ligue 1. These acquired media rights speak to our focus to provide the best and most relevant sports programming to Hispanic audiences.

Long-term, the future will be about meeting the demand of an ever-growing and evolving audience, a big part of which is made up by younger generations who are consuming media in entirely new ways. Young sports fans know what they want to see and how they want to access it and our goal will be to meet their demand. For Univision Deportes, this means remaining current, appealing to their unique interests, and providing them with the culturally relevant sports content they desire on whatever platform they are on. The future will be largely centered on increasing the variety of interactive content and expanding its distribution across different channels, with an emphasis on social media.

How are Univision and Univision Deportes continuing to drive audience growth? What trends are you finding?
Audiences are becoming more evolved every day, they are no longer just tied to television  they’re interactive, they’re on the go, they are accessing content from different sources and devices so we think it’s instrumental to provide informative and entertainment sports content that gives users the chance to truly engage – and across all social media platforms. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and expand the way audiences can access viewing our content. As such, Univision is spearheading efforts to make high-quality content available to Hispanic sports fans across all platforms. Our original productions draw “hard core sports fans” to be part of the conversation on social media as we deliver the latest sports highlights, news and analysis before and after the main events. We offer our audience live streaming of our soccer matches on UnivisionDeportes.com. We encourage dialogue with our viewers on our programs across social media platforms – whether that’s on Facebook, Twitter, Skype or any emerging social media platforms.

On advertiser response: Advertisers are always looking for engaged consumers and soccer fans are these consumers. Advertisers are also recognizing they need to speak to the Hispanic consumer in a culturally relevant environment in order to drive sales, and they know that in Univision they have a long-standing partner they can trust to deliver with this audience. The Census created a groundswell that has led to more demand to reach Hispanics than ever before. We represent the fastest growing consumer segment in the U.S., which for many marketers is an untapped opportunity to increase sales.


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Sports Industry Digging for Latin Roots

It wasn’t just the politicians wooing the increasingly influential Hispanic base this past election season. With a growing demographic that is expected to boast buying power that tops $1.3 trillion by 2015, Latino consumers are also now front and center in the battle for sports viewers. After all, compared to the general population, the average Hispanic sports fan is not only younger than other demographics; they are bigger sports fans and utilize social media more often.

Witness the growth of U.S. Hispanic sports viewership. Sure, soccer including the  Champions League and Liga MX continue to draw record audiences. But the likes of the NFL, NBA, NASCAR and MLB are also now courting viewers with overt campaigns looking to connect with the culture. During the last NBA season, Hispanic viewers accounted for 12% of the total viewers, up 20% from the previous year. During the finals, a Spanish-language ad from Ford aired on an English-language broadcast network in a nod to the league’s growing fan base.

NASCAR estimates that Latinos makes up 9% of its core fans, with room to grow. In fact, the organization called for an agency review earlier this year in order to grow that percentage, even as NASCAR prepped a Hispanic marketing initiative dubbed “Bienvenidos a NASCAR.”

For the NFL, Super Bowl XLVI ranked as the most-watched program ever among Hispanics, averaging over a million more Hispanic viewers than the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final. The 2011 season ranked as the most-watch season ever for the league among Latinos, with over 33 million Hispanics tuning in.

“Our Hispanic fanbase has been a major priority for us for the past six or seven years,” said Peter O’Reilly, Vice President of Fan Strategy and Marketing, NFL. “We have put a strategy together that is about going after the Hispanic fans-especially more bicultural and Spanish dominant fans-and deliver the game in the way they want to consume it, whether that’s in the language or by delivering more customized content.”

O’Reilly notes that media partners continue to drive interest and habits for both entrenched audiences as well as up-and-coming fans. In addition to utilizing partners in Telemundo and ESPN Deportes, the league is also leveraging its relationship with Univision to run the NFL’s official Spanish language site and serve as the official Spanish-language network radio broadcaster of the NFL.

“U.S. sports properties are upping the game in reaching Hispanics and we have partnered with many in delivering game experiences that attract Hispanic fans,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, President of Univision Deportes, who later noted that “As part of our partnership with the NFL, Univision also produces a NFL segment in ‘Republica Deportiva,” and twice-weekly segments in ‘Contacto Deportivo,’ the sports highlights and recap program broadcast on TeleFutura and Univision Deportes Network. And as part of its partnership with MLB, Univision Radio serves as the Spanish-language radio broadcaster of the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees and New York Mets.”


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Univision shook up the wars for Latino sports fans earlier this year with the launch of Univision Deportes Network last April. With Univision continuing to commandeer ratings for the demographic, Univision Deportes’ properties portfolio now include rights to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as well as 12 of the 18 teams within the Liga MX and the Chivas team beginning July 2013, Copa MX, Major League Soccer, the CONCACAF Champions League, and more.

Univision Deportes Network now joins a growing roster of outlets targeting the demographic. Other new faces include Al-Jazeera’s new network beIn Sport which launched with a Spanish channel several months ago showcasing American, European and Latin American soccer games.

ESPN Deportes, of course, continues to serve as a primary driver of Latino sports audiences, and recently marked its highest-rated month ever last June. The brand has branched out since launch with more than 2,500 live and/or original hours of sports a year, as well as ESPN Deportes Radio0-the only around-the-clock national Spanish-language sports radio network in the U.S.-and ESPNDeportes.com.

Telemundo was recognized by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) as the Latino TV Network of the year several weeks ago. The Telemundo Olympic broadcast registered a total cumulative viewership of 22.5 million total viewers through the 16 days of coverage, 42% more than the Beijing Olympics, and bolstered by the “Great Golden Final” between the Brazil and Mexico soccer teams that ranked as the most watched Olympic event in the history of the network, averaging 3.6 million total viewers. In a look to the future, Comcast paid around $600 million for the Spanish-language rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups for viewers in the U.S.


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Fox Deportes, meanwhile, underwent a transformation two years ago from Fox Sports in Espanol and has since been on a tear with viewers. During the month of September, FOX Deportes ranked as the top-ranked Spanish language sports network, according to Nielsen, posting the highest adults 18-49 viewership in every key day-part: Total Day, Prime, Late Fringe and Weekend Day. Centerpiece series Central Fox ranked as the most viewed Spanish language sports news program on cable in August and September with a first-place finish among total viewers and P18-49 for the first time ever.

“The mission we set out on two years ago was to redefine U.S. Latino sports media and become the number one Latino sports brand,” said Vincent Cordero, EVP and General Manager of FOX Deportes. “It was premised on a paradigm shift in terms of how we perceived the U.S. Latino marketplace, not as Latin Americans who happened to be in the United States, but as Americans who were Latino.”

In addition to the likes of showcasing soccer such as UEFA Champions League, as well as Major League Baseball, Golden Boy Promotions Boxing and UFC, Fox Deportes recently started to diversify its lineup, adding the likes of college football and NASCAR to the programming slate.

“The US Latino marketplace has evolved and continues to evolve, we need to evolve with it to properly serve them,” said Cordero. “Two years ago, I would say the channel was more of a soccer network, it was primarily Latin American focused. Then we decided that we wanted to make it a Latino network for all US Latinos, and we wanted to have soccer as a core pillar, but expand beyond that into other types of events, combat, racing, American football, as well as introducing them to original programming and I can’t emphasize enough how important that has been.”


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The newest entry on the scene, however, is the first Spanish-language regional sports network in the country. The launch of Time Warner Cable Deportes last month in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area, which boasts programming pillars that include the Lakers and Galaxy, marks the newest wrinkle in the play for Latino sports fans. Games are being showcased with original content designed and produced for the Spanish-speaking community.

“The easiest way for us would have been to just take games and simply present them in Spanish, the way ESPN might present a typical basketball game, but instead we went in the opposite direction,” said Pablo F. Urquiza, Vice President of Time Warner Cable Deportes. “We wanted to make this network relevant and impactful to our audience. The way to do that was to do our own production, our own graphics, a professional crew with experience in Spanish-language television, so we could bring the same type of passion and energy that fans might see watching a soccer game, which for our audience is very important to connect.”

For marketers, the content and channels being created reaffirm the growing important for brands to connect to this consumer segment. The Hispanic advertising industry is outpacing all other sectors of advertising growing 4 times faster and is now more than $5 billion industry, according to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies and ad dollars to Spanish-language television rose 17.8% during the second quarter of 2012, according to Kantar Media. Considering more than 90% of US-based Hispanics consider themselves to be sports fans, according to one study, the connection and synergy appear to be a natural fit and clearly poised to grow more potent in the years ahead.

“A sports brand that is able to cultivate the strength of the Hispanic fan base at a grassroots level and become embedded within the community is poised for a bright future,” said O’Reilly. “For us, this has been high priority and we expect that growth to continue and accelerate as we move ahead. You will see more and more where a classic American sport like the NFL becomes an even stronger part of the Hispanic market.”

Later —
Chris Pursell
Editor
11.14.12

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