Cowboys Round Up Azteca América’s Texas Stations

Los Vaqueros are coming to three Azteca América stations in the Lone Star State.

The National Football League's Dallas Cowboys have struck a deal with Azteca América that will make O&Os KDVF in San Antonio, KDAF in Austin and KYDF in Corpus Christi official Spanish-language partners of one of pro football's most-storied franchises. 

Under the two-year deal, announced late in July, the three stations will telecast live, Cowboys-produced preseason games announced by Victor Villalba and Luis Fernando Pérez. The 2016 broadcast schedule is comprised of Cowboys games versus the Miami Dolphins on Friday, August 19, at 7 p.m. (CT), the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, August 25, at 9 p.m. (CT) and the Houston Texans on Thursday, Sep. 1 at 7 p.m. (CT). Pregame shows will precede the Cowboys' home games against Miami and Houston.

Once the regular season kicks off, the stations will air a monthly, Spanish-language edition of Cowboys Report.

Luis Hernandez, GM of KVDF, tells Multichannel News the games are fully produced by Cadena de Plata Radio, the Cowboys' Spanish-language radio and television network, with sales opportunities and promotional efforts left to the Azteca América stations.

“The team already has a dedicated effort to reaching the Hispanic market, as the Cowboys are a very beloved and respected club in the Hispanic community,” Hernandez said. “They are the most popular of the two NFL teams in Texas.”

A section of the Dallas Cowboys’ official website — Somos Cowboys, sponsored by Ford — is dedicated to Spanish-speaking fans. The regularly updated @somoscowboys Twitter feed is also available for Spanish speakers, as is the Somos Cowboys Facebook page.

Telemundo-owned KDVA in San Antonio aired the team's Spanish-language preseason games last season; Austin and Corpus Christi are new Spanish-language markets for the team. In addition to Dallas-Fort Worth, other Cowboys Spanish-language markets are Abilene, Bryan-College Station, El Paso, Lubbock, McAllen-Harlingen-Brownsville, and Waco.

While Hernandez could not speak of the reasons behind the Cowboys’s shift from Telemundo to Azteca América in San Antonio, he notes that the Cowboys were impressed by his stations’ “ability to be pretty nimble and to pre-empt network programming in order to run live team broadcasts.” He added that Azteca’s corporate executives saw the opportunity to gain viewers with the Cowboys and raised no objection to pre-empting network programming.

Sales efforts are a bit lagging, Hernandez admitted. “We’re a little behind the eight-ball, as most Fortune 500 brands completed their media planning in late June," he said. "We have four of five brands that have expressed interest, and they represent a combination of local, national and regional brands. Texas brands are a natural match, of course.”

Hernandez said he expects to reveal the sponsors by the second week of August, while continuing to work closely with local businesses to create customized programs.

“We are very excited to be aligned with Azteca América as the provider of our Spanish-language broadcasts for the Dallas Cowboys preseason games and Cowboys-related programming,” Cowboys executive vice president Jerry Jones Jr. said. “We have always been grateful for the loyal fans who have watched our Spanish-language broadcasts through the years, and that is especially true for the strong fan followings in San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi.”

Villalba’s first turn at calling Cowboys games in Spanish came in 1996, as a color commentator for the team’s radio broadcasts. A season later, he added the roles of producer and host of the team’s Spanish-language TV broadcasts to his resume. After a stint away from the team, he returned in 2002, with affiliate relations expanding to Mexico a year later. He’s been with the Cowboys ever since, and since 2005 also serves as the Spanish-language play-by-play announcer for the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks.

On-air partner Perez has been with the Cowboys since 2004. From June 2009 to November 2013, he also served as co-host for Zona ESPN on ESPN Deportes Radio AM 1540 in Dallas.

Since the 2012 NFL season, all of the league’s broadcasting partners have added Spanish-language coverage of some regular-season games, either through SAP on a Spanish-language network. Some games aired by NBC also air on NBC Universo; select Fox telecasts also air on Fox Deportes; and ESPN Deportes airs all of sister network ESPN's Monday Night Football games. ESPN Deportes also aired a Spanish-language telecast of Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, through a sublicensing deal with English-language rightsholder CBS.

New for the 2016-2017 season, the Denver Broncos have teamed up with Telemundo O&O KDEN in Denver for Tiempo Extra con Los Broncos, a 30-minute live highlights show beginning Sunday, Aug. 14, and running through Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. It’s the first-ever team-focused broadcast on Spanish-language television in Denver.

Other teams that have forged pre-season Spanish-language coverage agreements in recent season include the Green Bay Packers, with WYTU in Milwaukee; and Miami Dolphins, with Azteca affiliate WWHB in West Palm Beach.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears in June inked a Hispanic marketing agreement with local shop PACO Collective, which has been working with baseball's Chicago White Sox since 2010.

“Professional football is the most popular sport in America, and yet, when it comes to Hispanic audiences we still have to invite this segment through culturally relevant content and conversations to evolve from fans to family,” Paco CEO Ozzie Godinez said in a statement. “We’re going to be helping the Chicago Bears make sure they gain the most Hispanic engagement in Chicagoland and across the U.S. by appealing to the sense of community that drives NFL fan support and game attendance.”

Some 8.7% of NFL game viewers are Hispanic, according to Nielsen. That’s up from 5.5% in 2004.

Research conducted for ESPN shows the NFL as the second-most popular sport among Latino television viewers, behind soccer. Among Latinos who prefer to consume media in English, however, the NFL is by far the leader.

In related Azteca América news, the network is mourning the loss of veteran executive Roel Medina, who died unexpectedly at his home July 30 in Katy, Texas at the age of 55. Medina had served as GM of Azteca’s KYAZ in Houston since 2012.

Prior to joining Azteca Houston, Medina spent 11 years at Telemundo, where he served as a station general manager in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, respectively. He earlier worked for Univision, where he was Director of Marketing and Creative at KXLN in Houston.

“Roel Medina was creative force and a hard working executive who was ‘one of a kind,’” Azteca América CEO Manuel Abud said. “Above all, he was a man of deep convictions and a big heart. He was deeply committed to the Texas communities his stations served.”

Azteca Station Group executive vice president Enrique Perez added: “Roel made enormous contributions to our station group and company. He was a brilliant, beloved leader, not only for Azteca, but also within the entire Texas television community, which knew him so well and for so long.”