For a network that started in 2012, Univision Deportes has made tremendous leaps and bounds. What was initially started as a sports hub for a Hispanic audience has morphed into this January’s third-most viewed sports network among the 18-49 demographic – thanks in large part to soccer.
Recently interviewed by Front Office Sports, Univision Deportes President Juan Carlos Rodriguez noted the network’s inability to grab rights to any of the “big four” leagues, so they decided soccer was their best bet. What a good bet it has turned out to be. The network’s shift from a broader sports focus to becoming the ultimate home of soccer has helped grow the number of soccer minutes viewed in the U.S. by 191 percent the past six years and is projected to give the network 51 percent of all soccer viewership in the U.S.
The most popular and most-viewed league in the U.S., Liga MX, has a home on the network, as does MLS. The UEFA Champions League has been on the Univision Deportes Network for almost exactly a year now and has given the network a pleasant surprise – 43 percent of the audience watching Champions League coverage had not previously watched a game on the network. By adding daytime programming – a key growth opportunity for the network – Univision Deportes expanded their audience and brought new viewers to the Spanish language channel.
For Univision Deportes to continue their growth as a network and to continue to grow soccer, their strategy boils down to the following:
- Continue its investment into soccer broadcast rights
- Invest in technology to make the broadcasts more appealing, regardless of language
- Bring in the best on-air talent
- Add new properties (from recreational to professional) to the soccer landscape
The great benefit Univision Deportes has in its quest to become the go-to network for soccer is that fans will tune in regardless of language. As they increase their investment in the sport by adding new properties, talent, and technology to the mix, it’s easy to see how the network has climbed to the precipice of soccer coverage here in the U.S. and have proven that betting on soccer is a bet worth making.