Mun2 Deepens Sports Push

Buoyed by its coverage of a pair of Mexican national team World Cup qualifiers last year, bicultural Latino cable channel Mun2 is placing its boots more firmly in the sports arena.

The channel, the cable cousin of NBC Universal's Spanish-language broadcast network Telemundo, next month will establish Mun2 Sports, a programming initiative aimed at meeting the interests of young Latino Americans.

"Sports is a huge passion point for YLAs," said Telemundo chief operating officer Jacqueline Hernández. "Mun2 Sports will provide them with a new option in coverage for sports they love."

The initial gambit is The Mun2 Sports Arena, a weekly half-hour recap show on Sundays, presented by bilingual hosts in a casual format, focusing on sports and athletes favored by young Latinos. The program will not only place an emphasis on futbol, but the "Yankees, Lakers, Cowboys" and other prominent U.S. teams, according to Telemundo Sports senior executive vice president Jorge Hidalgo. Action from the Winter Olympics in Vancouver will also be chronicled.

Hidalgo said Mun2 will also begin airing "Mun2 Timeouts" on weekends, with the sports briefs also keeping the audience apprised of action around the U.S. sports scene. Hernandez said these interstitials already have drawn interest from a couple of sponsors, with Mun2 offering category exclusivity.

Out of the gate, event coverage will focus principally on soccer. Kicking off Feb. 20, Mun2 will present over 20 Saturday night matches, comprising exclusive contests, showcasing such sides as Chivas de Guadalajara, and English-language simulcasts of Futbol Liga Mexicana simulcasts with Telemundo. There may also be opportunities to present Mexico national-team matches when it plays in the U.S.

Hidalgo said Telemundo, which has been televising matches from the Mexican league for the past four years, has begun working toward a renewal with the circuit, as well as an extension with the national team, whose deal with the broadcaster concludes prior to the upcoming FIFA 2010 World Cup.

It was Mun2's high-rated English-language simulcasts of Mexican World Cup qualifiers against the U.S. and Trinidad & Tobago in 2009 that prompted the service to up the sports ante.

Hidalgo said Mun2 would also evaluate adding boxing, a popular sport among Latinos and a fixture on Telemundo's Friday-night lineup.

Hernandez said that original mun2 Sports content will be created for through interstitials, video highlights and exclusive interviews. "We really want to up the interactivity level and find out what our audience sports interests really are," she said