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Telemundo, Televisa Strike Mexican Soccer Deal

Just after raking in unprecedented ratings for its soccer coverage, NBC Universal’s Telemundo has signed a short-term contract with Mexico’s Grupo Televisa for U.S. rights to the home games of six of that country’s premier teams.

The Spanish-language broadcaster has won the rights to home-stadium matches involving UNAM, Atlante, Tigres, Monterrey, Toluca and Atlas. The first telecast is a Saturday, Oct. 4 tilt between Monterrey and Jaguares. 

Telemundo would not disclose financial terms, but the deal gives it exclusive rights to air games from Sept. 29 through Dec. 31, after which the network must bid again. Rival Univision was the previous rightsholder.

“The best part of this deal is that it will allow us to give viewers the best soccer each week,” said Telemundo senior executive vice president, network sports Jorge Hidalgo. Starting with the Oct. 4 match, Telemundo will offer two games on Saturdays and one on Sundays.

The broadcast will also include Mexican National Championship playoffs, semifinals and finals matches, assuming one or more of the teams reach that level.

The deal, which falls outside of Televisa’s long-term programming license agreement with Univision, is the second this year between Telemundo and Grupo Televisa. Earlier this year, Televisa’s Canal 9 began broadcasting Telemundo programming in Mexico as part of a 10-year agreement between the networks.

As Telemundo has learned of late, Mexican soccer is an important part of the ratings-growth equation. On Aug. 20, it scored its highest-ever Nielsen rating for soccer when over 2 million adults aged 18 to 49 tuned in for a Mexico-Honduras match. The telecast was part of the network’s successful Rumbo al Mundial franchise, which has delivered over 10 million viewers year-to-date.

Rumbo al Mundial is definitely our most successful franchise, accounting for six out of the 10 most watched programs on the network,” said Hidalgo.