When marketers and advertisers gather in New York in mid May for Hispanic  upfront week, they will come across a suite of new entrants and a market that looks a little more crowded than last year. In addition to the  much-hyped MundoFox broadcast channel, Univision will make a splash with  not one, but two brand new cable nets, as the company launched Univision Deportes last Saturday (April 7), a 24/7 sports-only channel that will initially be carried by DISH. (Univision in February launched a telenovela-only  channel, telenovelas.)

The launch of Univisión Deportes occurs at a time Univision is also looking  for a head of sports to replace Sandy Brown, who in early March abruptly stepped down as president of Univision Sports after only one year on the  job.

Univision is also set to launch a second sports channel, Univision Deportes  Dos, a dedicated channel created as part of the company’s deal with Dish that will provide repeats of soccer games that took place on the weekend.

In a recent interview, several days before stepping down, Brown said the cable sports channel is set to benefit “a great deal” from the strengthened relationship with Grupo Televisa, since much of the content is expected to hail from Televisa’s sports-only properties including Noticiero Televisa Deportes, Acción and Estadio Total.

“We have a distinct advantage, given our relationship with Televisa,”  said  Brown. “Another clear advantage is that we are a multiplatform media, so our content will be leveraged on several platforms.”

ESPN not resting on its laurels

While Univision launched Univision Deportes this past Saturday , sports-only networks are not resting on their laurels. ESPN  introduced its first-ever Spanish-language spot for the iconic This is SportsCenter franchise last week.

Just in time for Major League Baseball's Opening Day,  Handshakes features New  York Yankees All-Star Robinson Cano in a send-up of his popular handshake routine with teammates.

The ad –created by Wieden Kennedy- marks the first time ESPN has brought its longest running advertising campaign to viewers in a language other than English. And it is also relevant, as ESPN is stepping up crossover initiatives, sharing talent and content across ESPN and ESPN Deportes.

“"This is a landmark moment for the  theThis is SportsCenter  franchise,” said  Carol  Kruse, ESPN’s SVP of marketing, in a statement. “Reaching the Hispanic  sports fans continues to be a priority for the ESPN brand, and this is  just  another example of our commitment and many efforts to engage with this growing audience.”

Looking for precious rating points
And as the competition heats up, sports continues to be an area where  networks can still beat each other for precious ratings points. Telemundo  on Saturday March 31 beat Univision at 9:00 PM/ET with the live broadcast of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifier soccer semifinal match between Mexico and Canada. The game gave Telemundo over 1.6 million total viewers and was the # 1 primetime program Saturday night on Spanish-language TV among adults 18-49. It also helped beat Univision’s longtime *Sábado Gigante* by 28% (1,079,000 vs. 845,000) in the demo, according to Nielsen figures  provided  by Telemundo.


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