Telemundo's Ray Warren Sees Soccer as Key to Olympic Goals

Ray Warren Telemundo
Ray Warren (Image credit: Telemundo )

Comcast NBCUniversal's Telemundo will be running a record 313 hours of coverage of the Tokyo Olympics and Ray Warren, president of Telemundo Deportes, wants as much of that to be soccer as possible.

“We’re going to put on as much soccer as we can get,” Warren told Broadcasting+Cable.

The best case scenario for Telemundo would be if Mexico wins the World Cup. He’s also hoping that the U.S. Women’s Team gets gold medals.

Also Read: Tokyo Olympics Expected to Draw $2.25 Billion in Ad Revenue: Kantar

Andrés Cantor, the Telemundo sportscaster famous for hollering “goooooal” when there’s a score in a fútbol match, will be announcing some soccer matches in English for the first time since 2000, a rare treat for viewers, Warren said.

“We always say soccer is better in Spanish,” said Warren. “We do get a lot of English dominant households watching. So to be able to watch it and have the guy who makes it fun speaking English will be very cool.”

Cantor is expected to call the Brazil-Germany men’s game and some U.S. Women’s National Team games. His schedule will be worked out between NBC Sports and Telemundo Deportes. “We’ll make a lot of decisions on the ground,” Warren said.

In addition to soccer, sports Telemundo will be focusing on will include boxing, basketball, BMX, beach volleyball, surfing and skateboarding. NBC, in contrast, will show more gymnastics, swimming and track and field.

Also Read: NBCU Plans Record 7,000 Hours of Olympic Programming

Telemundo will also tailor its coverage to follow athletes from Latin America, South America, Spain and Portugal. “As they get closer to medals, we’ll keep a closer eye on them,” Warren said. 

“We’re going to serve our fans. If you serve the fans, the fans will serve you. They’ll watch and they’ll engage and they’ll love you for it,” he said. 

Andres Cantor Telemundo

Andrés Cantor (Image credit: Telemundo)

Sports are very important to Telemundo and the Latino audience. “We talk about being the home of the biggest and best global sports in Spanish language,” Warren said. The Olympics are a big deal. “They’re the next biggest deal to the World Cup.” Telemundo also has the rights to the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament. 

Also Read: Telemundo Upfront: 1,000 Hours of Original Content in 2021-22

Telemundo does not have a dedicated sports network. It is just beginning to work with Comcast NBCU’s streaming service Peacock on Spanish-language channels and programming and is still working out its plan for the Olympics, which could include a daily update show.

Warren also said he’s already talking to Peacock about ways to stream more content from the Beijing Winter Olympics and other properties NBC Sports has the Spanish-language rights to, but doesn't have a home for. 

Also Read: Peacock Pulls In $500 Million During Record NBCU Upfront

“I’m very happy to have Peacock on the horizon because I think that opens up a lot of opportunity for us,” he said. .

Telemundo will be using the Olympics as an opportunity to promote its full season of Sunday Night Football and the beginning of the World Cup qualifying matches, which will feature the Mexican and American teams.

Warren will be at the games in Tokyo, which is under stringent restrictions because of the surge in COVID-19. Normally more people would go, and sponsors would be there to be entertained. (NBCU has invited advertisers to its Orlando theme park to watch the games). 

“My protocol will be going from hotel to broadcast center and broadcast center back to hotel,” he said. “They’re really trying to protect everyone and control the situation.”

He said he wanted to be on site because it will be easier to make last-minute and late-night decisions and communications with production and technical people. 

Warren recalled attending another tough Olympics in war-torn Sarajevo in 1984. “I’ve been around long enough to know you just put your head down and do your job.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.