ESPN Deportes to Viewers: You Make the Call

On Jan. 7, 2009, ESPN Deportes turns five years old. To celebrate, the Spanish-language sports network is asking viewers to decide which events or shows of the last five years it should air.

The campaign, dubbed ESPN Deportes Replay, kicked off this week (Dec. 2) with voters logging onto the network’s Web site to vote for their favorite programming from a list that includes Mexican first division soccer, Caribbean Series baseball, Hazaña, ESPN Perfiles and UEFA Champions League soccer matches, among others. Users will also be able to vote on the network’s mobile platform, ESPN Móvil.

The programming chosen by viewers will air daily from Monday, Dec. 22 through Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, which marks the exact date of the network’s anniversary.

“We launched ESPN Deportes on the night of Jan. 7, 2004, so we thought it was a meaningful way to commemorate,” said general manager Lino García. ESPN Deportes launched with SportsCenter at 7 p.m.

The Replay campaign will also be highlighted on ESPN’s English-language channels and other media properties, which attract large Hispanic viewership, as the network seeks cross-platform integration.

And although the new year is poised to be challenging for many in the media industry, ESPN Deportes has a lot to celebrate. Since its launch, the network has reached distribution deals with all the major players, including Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox Communications, Dish Network and DirecTV, amounting to an estimated 4 million Hispanic households. In April of this year, Nielsen began to report Hispanic audience ratings for ESPN Deportes, joining Discovery en Español, Fox Sports en Español, GolTV, Mun2 and Galavision as fully rated Spanish-language cable networks.

Having secured distribution in all major markets and Nielsen Media Research-rated status, García’s goal for the next five years is even more challenging.

“We want to grow the cable and multichannel category, following a trend that is already happening in the general market,” he said. “We want more Hispanics on cable and to have our network grow along with the industry as a whole.”