Hispanic-Focused Nets Bulk Up Soccer Choices

Soccer remains an ever-important ratings and revenue driver for Hispanic sports networks.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that Univision Deportes and ESPN Deportes are each gearing up for tournaments they believe will be key draws for sponsors and viewers.

The 100th year anniversary edition of the Copa America Centenario tournament, to be held in the U.S. for the first time, is typically the biggest sporting event in the Americas. The tournament pits teams from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL member nations in a format similar to the World Cup.

While the first ball won't be kicked until June 3, Univision Deportes is already in pregame mode. Airing each Monday at 9 p.m. is America Redonda - Camino a la Copa America Centenario. The weekly show features an in-depth look at everything leading up to the tournament.

Hosts Luis Omar Tapia, Diego Balado, and José Luis López Salido will conduct exclusive interviews with the managers/head coaches of the participating teams, including Juan Carlos Osorio (Mexico), Jürgen Klinsmann (United States) and Gerardo Martino (Argentina). 

Additionally, Univision Deportes has set airdates of April 10, May 1 and May 15 for the 60-minute investigative feature Expediente. Featuring an in-depth look at failures and successes in the world of sports, the show is hosted by Adriana Monsalve, Lindsay Casinelli, Alejandro Berry and Iván Kasanzew and will focus solely on the tournament for its third season.

Meanwhile, Univision Deportes viewers can watch some of the best Copa America matches from years past, as they will be replayed daily until the start of this year's tournament.

Meanwhile, ESPN Deportes has already released its coverage schedule of the 2016 International Champions Cup tournament, which begins July 23 at 12:30 p.m. ET with Scotland’s Celtic vs. England’s Leicester City and concludes August 13 with Celtic vs. Italian side Inter Milan.

The ICC matches are part of an agreement with Relevent Sports granting ESPN the U.S. English-language and Spanish-language rights to the tournament through 2018.

 “The ICC is a great complement to our lineup of marquee international events this summer led by UEFA Euro 2016,” ESPN senior vice president of programming Scott Guglielmino said. “We look forward to showcasing some of the best soccer brands in the world across our media platforms to our bilingual soccer fans.”

And North American Soccer League (NASL) fans can now follow their favorite teams on beIN Sports, thanks to a rights deal with the second-tier U.S. pro soccer league that runs through 2017. Network coverage kicked off April 2 with Miami FC vs. the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

“With our new partnership with NASL firmly in place, we’re betting big on North American programming rooted in a growing U.S. fan base,” beIN Sports managing director Yousef Al-Obaidly said. “Featuring some of the country’s top professional soccer talent, this acquisition represents the first time we hold the rights to a domestic soccer league, further showcasing our commitment to providing access to the best sports leagues and events, both here and abroad.”

The NASL is comprised of 12 teams in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and uses a split-season schedule running from April to early November, with a four-week break in July.

“We're obviously very excited to announce our new partnership with beIN Sports,” said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson. “Like the NASL, beIN Sports has quickly grown in importance and stature across North America. Our savvy pro soccer fans here in North America are watching beIN Sports on a regular basis, and now they'll be able to watch exciting and competitive NASL action every week.”

The New York Cosmos enter the 2016 season as defending champions, and will face additional competition as three new teams make their NASL debut this spring: Oklahoma City-based Rayo OKC, owned by Spanish club Rayo Vallecano; Miami FC, co-owned by Italian soccer legend Paolo Maldini; and Puerto Rico FC, owned by New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

Of course, beIN Sports's mainstay soccer telecasts are the likes of "El Clasico," the Spanish La Liga contests between F.C. Barcelona and Real Madrid. The latest rendition, on April 2 from Barcelona's Camp Nou, ended in a 2-1 victory for the visiting team, with the late, winning goal coming from Cristiano Ronaldo. The broadcast averaged more than 1.9 million total viewers across the English and Spanish language channels and dominated on social media: on a tweets per unique author basis it had the most socially engaged audience of any sporting event on the day, including two Final Four games in the NCAA basketball tournament on TBS, beIN Sports said. The most-tweeted moment of the game was when Ronaldo scored the winning goal: 11,000 tweets at 4:15 p.m., according to the programmer, citing Nielsen. In Spanish, it was the top soccer telecast year to date against all cable networks regardless of language, the programmer said.