Univision Deportes, ESPN Sign Agreement to Increase Reach of Mexican Soccer in the U.S.

Univision Deportes, the sports arm of Univision Communications Inc., and ESPN, have formalized an alliance to increase the reach of the Mexican National Soccer Team (nicknamed “El Tri”) in the U.S.

The agreement grants ESPN’s English-language networks and digital platforms the media rights to Mexico’s home FIFA World Cup qualifying matches and international friendlies. The English-language coverage will complement Univision’s popular Spanish-language coverage of the Mexican Team on broadcast, cable and interactive platforms.

As part of the agreement, Univision Deportes and ESPN have secured the U.S. media rights to all of Mexico’s home matches, both qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and international friendlies, in Spanish and English respectively. The alliance will also allow Univision Deportes and ESPN to collaborate on special content focused on the Mexican National Team.

The series of 20 matches will begin Wed., Jan. 30, with an international friendly in Phoenix, Arizona, vs. Denmark at 10 p.m. ET (in Spanish on UniMás/Univision Deportes Network and English on ESPN2/WatchESPN), and conclude with the team’s last match before the 2014 World Cup.

Univision Deportes and ESPN will also televise the much-anticipated Mexico vs. USA match in Mexico City on Tuesday, 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 World Cup Qualifying series for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) region.

“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. “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.”

“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.,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN senior vice president, programming.  “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.”

Univision Deportes will continue to broadcast Mexican National Team matches in Spanish across Univision Network, UniMás, 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 SportsCenterESPN FC Press PassFirst TakeSportsNationAround the HornPardon 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 and ESPN will follow the Mexican team as it seeks to qualify for Brazil 2014 – capturing the arc of El Tri’s “Road to Brazil 2014” narrative – as well as its preparatory matches for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and, if it qualifies, the 2014 World Cup. The Mexican National Team is seeking to reach its sixth straight FIFA World Cup in Brazil.  The team is the reigning CONCACAF Gold Cup champion and in June, will represent CONCACAF at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.  Mexico won its first soccer Gold Medal at the Olympics in London, in a 2-1 victory over favored Brazil at Wembley Stadium, last summer.

In addition to the Mexican National Team, Univision Deportes and ESPN already hold the media rights, in Spanish and English, respectively, to the U.S. National Team as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. 

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