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What: After losing the World Cup broadcast rights to Telemundo, Univision expanded their soccer coverage by adding UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
Why it matters: Univision’s expanded coverage of UEFA Champions League is drawing record viewership, including non-Spanish language soccer fans.

Losing the rights to the FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) can be crippling for any broadcast company, especially one like Univision (@Univision) that depends on soccer for its sports programming.

Univision previously owned the Spanish-language broadcast rights to the quadrennial soccer tournament, since the 1978 Argentina World Cup up until the 2014 Brazil World Cup, before losing the bid to Telemundo.

Telemundo (@Telemundo) paid FIFA (@FIFAcom) $600 million for the Spanish-language broadcast rights of the 2018 Russia World Cup and 2022 Qatar World Cups; upped from the $325 million that Univision paid for the 2010 South Africa World Cup and 2014 Brazil World Cup.

UEFA Champions Leagues matches, such as the CSKA Moscow 1-0 upset over Real Madrid on the October 2nd, 2018, are bringing in record viewership for Univision.

Telemundo also won the rights to the 2026 World Cup, being hosted by Mexico (@miseleccionmxEN), Canada (@CanadaSoccerEN) and the United States, much to the chagrin of Univision. Telemundo won the bid for the 2026 World Cup in a closed auction that excluded Univision (as well as ESPN) in order to make up for moving the 2022 World Cup tournament from June-July to November-December due to weather conditions in Qatar.

Losing the broadcast rights to Telemundo was a huge blow for Univision.

“In addition to the games themselves, Univision would program their news, talk show, and morning show segments around the World Cup,” said Walter Franco, Project Manager at Victus Advisors (@VictusAdvisors).

But rather than stand pat, Univision looked to towards Europe to adapt. Univision won the bid for the Spanish-language rights to the UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) and UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague), paying $105 million over three years, adding the European sports properties alongside their Liga MX (@LIGABancomerMX), Major League Soccer (@MLS), Bundesliga (@Bundesliga_EN), CONCACAF Champions League, the U.S. Men’s (@ussoccer_mnt) and Women’s teams (@ussoccer_wnt), and Mexico’s national team media rights.

“With the Champions League on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the Europa League on Thursdays, we are able to give fans access to the best clubs and players in the world in a timeslot where we previously didn’t have live matches,” said Univision’s Senior VP/Sports Programming & Acquisitions Eric Conrad. “With these matches during the week, league matches from Liga MX, MLS, Bundesliga and more on the weekends, and top international competition throughout the year, we are now the all-week, all-year ‘Home of Soccer’ in the U.S.

From a viewership perspective, we have already elevated the group stage of this premiere soccer property to unprecedented heights in the U.S.

As part of the new deal, Univision has expanded coverage, compared to Fox Deportes (@FOXDeportes) previous efforts, carrying 137 lives games across all of their platforms, including 97 matches split throughout their Univision, Univision Deportes Network, UniMás and Galavisión networks, 51 more games than TNT’s linear English-language broadcasts.

“Given that we are making every single game available live, with most airing on our highly distributed linear networks, we are giving Champions League exposure it simply has never had before,” said Conrad.

Univision is banking that UEFA (@UEFA) Champions League coverage will grow their soccer viewership, drawing non-Spanish speakers to their platforms. The move is paying off thus far, with PSV Eindhoven’s (@psveindhoven) 4-0 drubbing at hands of Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) averaging 618,000 viewers in the early game of a double-header of Match Day 1, and Liverpool’s (@LFC) 3-2 win over Paris St-Germain (@PSG_English) averaging 672,000 viewers, the most-viewed Group Stage telecast in UEFA Champions League history.

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“European soccer has allowed us to broaden our audience a bit, as we are seeing greater non-Hispanic audiences,” said Conrad. Conrad goes on to say that “from a viewership perspective, we have already elevated the group stage of this premiere soccer property to unprecedented heights in the U.S., and we only foresee greater growth as Champions League moves into its later, more intense stages.”

As part of their efforts to expand their viewership, Univision is streaming UEFA Champions Leagues matches for free, with a cable subscription. Turner Sports B/R Live (@brlive) streaming service is charging viewers, from individual matches ($2.99 per game) as well as monthly ($9.99) and yearly plans ($79.99). And while Univision is airing UEFA Europa League matches on their linear platforms, TNT has relegated all UEFA Europa League action behind a paywall on their B/R Live platform.

“One factor that would be interesting to consider is that all games will not be behind a paywall, which will not be the case for English-language coverage on TNT / Bleacher Report,” said Franco. “I would imagine many folks that typically watch in English may switch to Spanish to avoid paying for Bleacher Report matches.”

With so much expanded Spanish-language coverage and high expectations to retain new viewers, Univision has ambitions to do more with their UEFA Champions League coverage than the previous rights owners, Fox Deportes.

We expect to continue setting new viewership records as the tournament progresses and, ultimately, reach our goal of making this season the most-viewed Champions League season ever in the U.S., in any language,” said Conrad.

What: Concacaf General Secretary Philippe Moggio took some time to discuss the federation’s initiatives coming out of World Cup and looking towards France 2019, Qatar 2022 and beyond.
Why it matters: Changing the culture of the federation across the entire region has been the hallmark of Moggio’s two years at the helm, and a stronger and more unified Concacaf benefits marketers looking to connect.

Philippe Moggio

Concacaf (@Concacaf ‏), one of the six global FIFA (@FIFAcom) federations, administering soccer in 41 nations in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, continues its stated vision, “For the Love of Our Game,” under the administration of General Secretary Philippe Moggio (@PMoggio). The Colombian former NBA Senior VP and managing director of Latin America and the Caribbean has instituted sweeping changes in how the federation operates in his two-plus years at the helm, notably a sizable increase in competitions throughout its footprint and updated branding.

Moggio discussed his achievements, vision and his NBA experience in a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Portada this month.

Portada: What do you consider to be the most significant achievement at Concacaf since your appointment two years ago?

Phillipe Moggio: We have made tremendous progress over the last two years. And for us, our biggest accomplishment as we continue changing the culture of our organization is that the discussion across our 41 member nations is, for the first ever, purely about football.

We have made substantial strides in rebuilding Concacaf into a credible, transparent, well-governed organization. We have been heavily focused on reform and good governance while upholding the values of transparency and accountability. In addition, with the aim of providing more access to football for more Member Associations, players and fans, we have also expanded our national teams’ competitions, including Gold Cup and most recently, the Concacaf Nations League, and our club tournaments, including the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, the Scotiabank Concacaf League, and the Caribbean Club Championships.

As a result of these important changes, I think Concacaf is today well positioned for strong, long-term growth and success.

Portada: What are some of the programs or initiatives at Concacaf that were most influenced by your work at the NBA?

P.M.: The NBA is an incredible organization, where I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best leaders in sports, including current Commissioner Adam Silver and former Commissioner, David Stern. From them, I learned that the integrity of the game is a top priority, and that this integrity needs to be preserved through the implementation of strong governance and transparent practices. I also learned at the NBA that to grow a sport you need to ensure you work hand in hand with the right strategic partners and that to continue engaging current and new fans and staying relevant, you need to continuously innovate and push the envelope from a content development and distribution perspective.

Similarly, at Concacaf, we have established good governance processes to ensure the integrity and transparency of our organization and the preservation of our game, supported by a new organizational structure. We have also implemented efficient business processes to improve operational performance and designed a new corporate identity. And to support the growth of our game and our business, we have been very focused on the expansion of our national and club competitions as well as on putting in place the right football development initiatives across professional football, youth development, coaching education and refereeing.

…[W]e have established good governance processes to ensure the integrity and transparency of our organization and the preservation of our game, supported by a new organizational structure

Portada: What are the goals of the new branding of Concacaf?

P.M.: We proudly launched the renewal of our brand in March to better represent the collective best of the individual cultures of our 41 member nations and the “Love for Our Game” that we all share. Brought together by the vision and power of working as one, this new brand represents four core pillars we have identified as central to all Concacaf efforts, which include Unity – we are One Concacaf family, representing the best of our 41 individual and beautiful cultures; Football – the game always comes first; Quality – we are here to raise our game every day, making football better for every team, every time; and Access – in our game, everyone gets to play and everyone in our family should feel connected and respected.

These key pillars, represented in our new logo through the four sides of a diamond, with 41 diamonds coming together in a circle, guide our decision making across all areas of the organization. It is a way of telling ourselves that what we are doing is consistent with who we are as a brand. Unity, Football, Quality, Access. If it doesn’t have these qualities, it isn’t Concacaf. And it isn’t our game. This is what our brand is all about and what our slogan “Love for Our Game” represents.

Portada: Which competitions will be taking place under the Concacaf umbrella that fans can look forward to? Where will those take place?

P.M.: We are very focused on making football more accessible to more teams, players and fans across our region while raising the quality of our competitions. This second half of the year, our fans can look forward to a number of exciting competitions as we are hosting, and fully producing for media distribution, over 260 matches across men’s and women’s national team tournaments and youth competitions.

First, we are incredibly excited for the debut of our Concacaf Nations League Qualifying phase in September. The Concacaf Nations League (@CNationsLeagueis a new national team competition focused on improving the quality and standing of national team soccer within the Concacaf region. The development of this new competition, has been anchored on the principles of providing more meaningful games to our 41 Member Associations’ senior men’s national teams during a full FIFA World Cup qualifying cycle to increase competitiveness and spurring development of the sport on and off the field. The sixty-eight-match qualifying phase of this tournament will take place during the four FIFA match windows of September, October and November 2018 and March 2019.

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Our 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship is scheduled to be played on October 4-17, in Cary, NC, Edinburg, Texas, and Frisco, Texas. The two finalists and winner of the third and fourth place match will automatically qualify to the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year in France and the fourth place team will play a home and away playoff against Argentina in November.

We also have the new Scotiabank Concacaf League. This 16 team professional club competition is currently underway throughout Central America and the Caribbean. The 2018 Scotiabank Concacaf League champion will earn a ticket to the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League to be played in the spring, joining clubs that have qualified from across the region, including top teams from MLS in the U.S. and Canada and from Liga MX in Mexico.

In addition, we are preparing for the largest ever Concacaf Under-20 tournament which will be played at the IMG Academy campus in Bradenton, Florida, on November 1-21, 2018. Thirty-four teams from our region will compete in this men’s youth championship to earn one of four spots in the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland.

And looking forward to next summer, 15 venues across 13 U.S. metropolitan cities will welcome the 2019 edition of the expanded Concacaf Gold Cup, which includes a pan-regional footprint with the upcoming selection of additional venues in the Caribbean and Central America.

Portada: What can Concacaf take from the 2018 FIFA World Cup results of member nations, heading into the 2022?

P.M.: We are very proud to have been represented by Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia and to have had one of our members, Panama, qualify to a FIFA World Cup for the first time ever. Together with our 41 members, we are working very hard on raising the competitive level across our region, and we believe that the expansion of our Concacaf Gold Cup and the creation of Concacaf Nations League, will give our national teams the opportunity to compete more and on a more consistent basis, we will see an improvement in Concacaf’s teams performance in Qatar 2022.

What: Verizon and the CONCACAF have agreed to a media rights deal to distribute CONCACAF tournaments across Verizon’s digital platforms.
Why it matters: The deal will give Verizon exclusive rights to distribute multiple championships, adding CONCACAF to Verizon’s sports offering which already includes deals with the NFL and the NBA.

Verizon and the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) have agreed to a multi-platform media rights deal to distribute all of CONCACAF competitions across Verizon’s digital media platforms. The deal gives Verizon exclusive English language rights to distribute multiple Confederation Championships, including the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League and the CONCACAF League in the U.S., as well as select tournaments in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Verizon, including media properties like Yahoo Sports, go90, and Complex, adds CONCACAF to its  digital sports offering with vast reach across platforms. In addition to recent deals with the NFL and the NBA, CONCACAF will join Verizon’s wide soccer portfolio, which includes beIN SPORTS, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Univision’s Liga MX, Eleven Sports’ Jupiler Pro League and a variety of Leagues within GOL TV.

“As the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League continues to gain attention as the region’s most important club tournament, this partnership with Verizon offers a great opportunity for fans who will now be able to follow their favorite teams live as they fight for the Confederation crown,” said CONCACAF CCO Jurgen Mainka.

“Our partnership with CONCACAF is yet another example of how we’re fueling our platforms to become the first screen for live sports. This deal is especially exciting as fans look to us for unique content and experiences in soccer,” added Brian Angiolet, SVP, Global Content & Media at Verizon.

 

What: FOX Sports will be offering the UEFA Champions League final live in virtual reality through
the broadcaster’s VR app. The match will take place this  Saturday match between Italian soccer club Juventus and Spain’s Real Madrid. FOX holds the English-language rights to the UEFA Champions League until 2018, when the rights will be taken over by Turner.
Why it matters: FOX Sports has been making an effort to stay up-to-date with consumer technology, which is why the channel has broadcast major events in VR, such as Super Bowl LI, the 2017 Big East Men’s Basketball Tournaments, the 2016 MLS Cup, and the 2016 Bundesliga season opener.

FOX Sports announced it will be broadcasting the UEFA Champions League final live in virtual reality, as well as statistics and pre-game VOD features through the Fox Sports VR app. Together with its technology partner, LiveLike, FOX will broadcast the game using three cameras positioned around the pitch, including one wide-frame shot and two behind each goal. This will let the broadcaster

According to Michael Davies, Senior VP, Field & Technical Operations at FOX Sports Media Group, there are still some quality details to be improved. But, he stated this won’t matter because virtual reality is more of a “companion experience”, where fans aren’t actually watching the whole game on their devices.

“We still think that that is really valuable and a really cool way to experience sports on the side,” he said. “That’s why we’re trying to give VR a helping hand through the interactive elements.”

Juventus and Real Madrid will play the Champions’ final next Saturday, June 3.

In this regular feature we look at the most watched soccer matches in the U.S. over the past weekend, the networks that came out on top and other relevant insights.

Which match had the largest audience?

The game between Arsenal and Manchester City, of the English Premier League, was the most watched during the weekend, with up to 630,000 viewers. NBC Sports Network broadcast it.

Which broadcaster came out on top?

Once again, because of their Premier League broadcasting rights, NBC Sports Network was the most watched broadcaster with close to 1.6 million viewers. BeIn Sports, the holder of the Spanish la Liga rights, came in  second.

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What else is relevant?

The match played between New England and Portland, on Sunday, was  the  only MLS’ game that made it to the Top Ten, with 266,000 viewers.

ProgramEpisodeNetworkStartEndTotal Viewers (000)Viewers Age 18-49 (000)Day of the game
1PREMIER LEAGUE LMANCHESTER CITY/ARSENALNBC SPORTS NETWORK10:57 a.m.1:00 p.m.631311Sun
2PREMIER LEAGUE LCRYSTAL PALACE/CHELSEANBC SPORTS NETWORK9:57 a.m.12:02 p.m.448230Sat
3LALIGA SANTANDER MRQ-LGRANADA VS. BARCELONABEIN SPORT ESPANOL2:35 p.m.4:47 p.m.393206Sun
4PREMIER LEAGUE LEVERTON/LIVERPOOLNBC SPORTS NETWORK7:22 a.m.9:28 a.m.287137Sat
5MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER LPORTLAND/ NEW ENGLANDESPN29:00 p.m.11:06 p.m.266125Sun
6PREMIER LEAGUE LMIDDLESBROUGH/SWANSEANBC SPORTS NETWORK8:24 a.m.10:31 a.m.256100Sun
7LALIGA SANTANDER MRQ-LREAL MADRID VS. ALAVESBEIN SPORT ESPANOL10:05 a.m.12:15 p.m.246145Sun
8LIGA MX LJAGUARES / UNAMUNIVISION DEPORTES6:37 p.m.8:57 p.m.226123Sat
9PREMIER LEAGUE LWEST BROM/MANCEHSTER UNITEDCNBC10:00 a.m.12:04 p.m.151113Sat
10LALIGA SANTANDER MRQ-LGRANADA VS. BARCELONABEIN SPORT2:35 p.m.4:50 p.m.11878Sun

 

Source: SportsTVRatings.com (“All data ©Nielsen, provided by a variety of TV network sources and not directly from Nielsen”)

 

 

English-language soccer broadcasting is becoming more relevant in the U.S. for everyone involved: fans, broadcasters, soccer teams and brands. NBC, Univision Deportes, Turner, BeINSports and others are jumping at the opportunity.

On February, Facebook and Univision announced a partnership by which the social media platform would start broadcasting Mexican Liga MX live soccer matches in English and a similar agreement was struck for MLS matches.

Rafael Ramirez
Rafael Ramírez, Chief Creative Officer at Newlink. (Image: LikedIn)

“Broadcasting soccer in English responds to a dynamic in our bilingual Hispanic fan which is English-dominant,” explains Rafael Ramírez, Chief Creative Officer at Newlink.

“We need to acknowledge that our audience is bi-national and bilingual,” adds Juan Carlos Rodríguez, president of Univision Deportes. “Mexican and Latino children don’t want to speak Spanish anymore. Through socio-economic and demographic studies, we discovered that they play soccer since they were kids, but they did it in English. Their switch has changed, they want to watch El América and Las Chivas, but they want to listen to it in English.”

Soccer continues to be the number one sport for Hispanic audiences, but the way it is consumed is what has changed.

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In addition, soccer is becoming more popular among English natives. According to Ramírez, soccer has become the favorite sports for teenagers in the U.S., independently of their culture.

Mexican and Latinos’ children don’t want to speak Spanish anymore.

In the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey 2015-2016, conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), soccer came in in fifth place in terms of number of participants, with 440,322 young men playing the sport.

Soccer Teams want the Attention

Due to the increased interest in soccer of English-dominant audiences in the U.S., Mexican soccer teams are also looking to sell their rights for English-language broadcasts.

Esteban de Anda
Esteban de Anda, Commercial Alliances and Communications Director of Xolos. (Image: LinkedIn)

“We urgently need sports anchors for radio and TV to give audiences the chance to listen to our game match broadcasts in English. We need to take this into account when broadcasting our games in the U.S.,” said Esteban de Anda, Commercial Alliances and Communications Director of Xolos, Tijuana’s soccer team.

A marketing executive at Club America, who asked to remain anonymous, explained that English-natives represent a relevant opportunity for the team, but the broadcasters are the ones who choose how to use their soccer rights. “The U.S. is a relevant market for us, but it is the broadcaster who chooses how to use our rights over there.”

Broadcasters pay more to a university in Albuquerque for their English-match rights than for ours in Spanish, although in terms of investment return we give them much more money.
Jose Luis Higuera B.
José Luis Higuera, Grupo Chivas Omnilife’s CEO. (Image: Twitter)

For Grupo Chivas Omnilife’s CEO, José Luis Higuera, it is very clear that the money is where the English-spoken games are. “It seems that even cricket has a higher budget than Chivas. Broadcasters pay more to a university in Albuquerque for their English-match rights than for ours in Spanish, although in terms of investment return we give them much more money.”

Liga MX still has the overall highest rating regardless of language.

If switching their broadcasts to English will let the teams get more investment, both from broadcasters and brands, then this definitely represents an opportunity for soccer teams.

According to Vicente Navarro, Vice-President of Product Development at marketing agency AC&M Group, about two-thirds of all the games broadcasted in the U.S. are broadcasted in English. “There are plenty of examples of English language soccer on TV showing really good numbers. NBC and Premier League has been a great success, and numbers for properties like Bundesliga and MLS keep getting stronger. However, Liga MX still has the overall highest rating regardless of language.”

Broadcasters agree on the opportunity

Although English-language broadcasts only represents 3% of Univision’s audience, Rodríguez admits the numbers keep growing. “It isn’t a trend jet, but it is a proof of it working.”

This explains why Univision is making strategic alliances with Facebook to broadcast LigaMX games in English.

Michael Neuman_Scout Sports and Entertainment
Michael Neuman, the EVP and Managing Partner at Scout Sports and Entertainment.

But not only Mexican-league’s games are relevant to English-natives. “There used to be a pretty strong influx of Spanish-language soccer games being broadcasted to the U.S.,” explains Michael Neuman, the EVP and Managing Partner at Scout Sports and Entertainment. Now we are seeing NBC making an enormous effort to bring Premier League soccer from the UK into the U.S. during season, on weekend mornings. They are really trying to train the American soccer fan that is seeking that experience.”

The audience is there and it is growing. There is definitely an interest on behalf of broadcasters to exploit the opportunity. A great example is Turner, which in February acquired the UEFA Champions League English-language media rights, starting in fall 2018, after 27 years without carrying any soccer programming. The company will pay more than $60 million annually for the rights, outbidding FOX and NBC.

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“The ability for an English-speaking soccer fan to see high quality games has never been as accessible as it is today,” Neuman ads.

What brands are missing

Vicente Navarro
Vicente Navarro, Vice-President of Product Development at marketing agency AC&M Group (Image: Twitter)

“For us, English-language properties are always something we recommend to our clients if the target market makes sense. We buy media with FOX, NBC, BeIN Sports and others regularly, because we know there is a growing viewership and we have to be talking to them,” says Navarro.

We know there is a growing viewership and we have to be talking to them.

According to Rodríguez the opportunity is great, but brands are still missing out because of their local strategies. Mexican brands should take more advantage of their binational businesses. “Comex, for example, has business both in Mexico and in the U.S., they should be able to pay soccer sponsorships in both countries.”

To this, Navarro ads that “some brands might want to stick to Spanish-language only but for most having a mix of both is a better approach.”

Soccer and Sports Marketing content will be very important at Portada’s major  PortadaLat event on June 7-8 in Miami.
Programming will include:
THE GOLAZO 2018 SOCCER WORLD CUP CAMPAIGN PITCH:
JURY: Mike Tasevsky, SVP of U.S. Sponsorship at MasterCard
Felix Palau, VP at Tecate, Heineken
Ed Carias, Sr. Brand Manager at el Jimador Tequila – North American Region, Brown-Forman
(Shortlisted candidates will be voted on by Portada’s audience in May.)
DESCRIPTION: Nine shortlisted nominees for the Golazo 2018 Soccer Marketing pitch battle it out in front of a jury! Who will come out on top?
HOW BRANDS SHOULD LEVERAGE SPORTS CONTENT
Mike Tasevsky, SVP of U.S. Sponsorship at MasterCard
Felix Palau, VP of Tecate at Heineken
John Alvarado, VP Brand Marketing at Crown Imports
Ed Carias, Sr. Brand Manager at el Jimador Tequila – North American Region, Brown-Forman
DESCRIPTION:
Sports marketing experts discuss opportunities for brands to leverage sports content in order to better connect with the U.S. and Latin American consumer.
HAPPY HOUR IN HONOR OF THE LAUNCH OF PORTADA’S SPORTS MARKETING PROGRAM
Enjoy a glass of wine and toast to the launch of Portada’s new sports marketing initiative. Register at early bird price here!

What: Starting 2019 season, the Champions League and Europa League will play their final match on the same week.
Why it matters: With this move fans and brands will get one week of intense prime football content.

Yesterday, UEFA’s executive committee decided to make some changes to the Champions and Europa League’s calendar. Starting its 2019 season, both leagues will play their final game on the same week, at least until 2021.

The main goal for doing this was the Europa League final to be played after the domestic season’s end. What won’t change is that each final will be played in a different stadium, and city.

This season the Europa League final will be held at Stockholm’s Friends Arena on Wednesday, May 24. The Champions League final will be played ten day later, on Saturday, June 3, at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

For 2019, dates have already been scheduled. The Europa League final will be played on Wednesday, May 29 and the Champions League final on Saturday, June 1, three days later.