ESPN Nets English-Language Rights to Mexican National Team Soccer Matches

Underlining the side’s Stateside popularity, Univision Deportes, the sports arm of the U.S. Spanish-language media leader, has formed an alliance with ESPN under which the sports behemoth will televise Mexico men's national team matches in English through 2014.

Univision, which holds the rights to El Tri’s games – international friendlies and CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches, ahead of FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil– is sublicensing the rights to the contests to ESPN’s English-language networks and digital platforms.  The parties will also collaborate on special content focused on the Mexican National Team.

Terms of the deal, which will result in Mexico's national team receiving regular exposure on English-language television in the States for the first time, were not disclosed.

The alliance, covering 20 matches, kicks off with tonight’s friendly: ESPN2 and WatchESPN will air the Mexico-Denmark match from Glendale, Ariz. at 10 p.m. (ET), while the game will also air on broadcaster UniMas (formerly TeleFutura) and Univision Deportes, Univision’s dedicated sports network that is currently carried by Dish, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse and Cablevision. The relationship will conclude with El Tri’s final match before the 2014 World Cup.

Univision Deportes and ESPN will also televise the much-anticipated Mexico vs. U.S. match in Mexico City on March 26 at 9:30 p.m. (ET) – the first leg of a home and away matches between the two rivals in the Hexagonal Round of the 2014 FIFA WCQ series for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football region. The parties have not announced whether Mexico-U.S. -- which figures to be the most-watched soccer match of 2013 in North America -- will air on the flagship ESPN and Unvision broadcast services

Telemundo holds the rights to Mexico’s away WC qualifiers, In the past, Telemundo also has televised some Mexico matches in English on cable network mun2.  

For its part, ESPN holds the rights to the U.S. men’s national team home matches, while BeIN Sports has secured the rights to the U.S. team's away WCQ matches.

Univision Deportes will continue to broadcast Mexican national team matches in Spanish across Univision Network, UniMás, and Univision Deportes Network with additional content on its digital and social platforms. Matches will be preceded by live editions of Futbol Central (Soccer Central). ESPN will have access to match highlights across ESPN studio programs such as SportsCenter, ESPN FC Press Pass, First Take, SportsNation, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, and ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning (simulcast on ESPN2). Univision Deportes and ESPN will also each have a reporter pitch-side access during select El Tri matches.

“Univision Deportes is committed to expanding access to soccer properties in the US across our platforms and with partnerships such as this one with ESPN,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president of Univision Deportes, in a statement. “Bringing together the leading sports brand in Hispanic America with the leading sports entity in English-language media undoubtedly speaks to the growing popularity of soccer in the U.S. and underscores Univision’s commitment to grow soccer in the U.S.”

Noted Scott Guglielmino, ESPN senior vice president, programming: “The Mexican national team plays an exciting brand of soccer that has attracted a passionate, loyal fan base not only in Mexico but throughout the U.S. As ESPN continues to build towards the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, this agreement represents an opportunity to add a premier soccer property that will appeal to all fans, including our growing Hispanic audience.”