ESPN has acquired the English-language rights to the Mexican National Team (El Tri) in the United States through the completion of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil via an agreement with Univision, which retains the team’s U.S. Spanish-language rights.
The deal, for the first time in the U.S., gives El Tri fans a consistent English-language home for the team’s matches, while also granting ESPN highlights rights for its popular studio programs such as SportsCenter, ESPN FC Press Pass, First Take, SportsNation and more.
Front Row caught up with Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president for programming and Global X, to discuss the rights agreement with Univision:
Why did ESPN make this deal?
ESPN is committed to reaching the widest possible audience with programming that is relevant to the sports and teams that they follow. As the number of English-speaking U.S. Hispanic households continues to increase, it makes sense for ESPN to carry sports events and cover sports news relevant to that audience.
How does ESPN’s coverage of the Mexican National Team fit into the company’s overall soccer content strategy?
With this agreement, ESPN continues to build up for the FIFA Confederations Cup in June and eventually, the FIFA World Cup in 2014. In addition to our long-standing relationship with the U.S. Soccer Federation, ESPN also has national team agreements in place for Germany, France and Spain, as well as a wide variety of European World Cup Qualifiers, a majority of which are shown on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.
Working with Univision on one national team might be seen as unique by many. Is this a new ESPN business model for soccer?
ESPN has always had a good relationship with Univisión — we share rights to U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer and the World Cup. The Mexican National Team has always enjoyed strong Spanish-language coverage through its relationship with Univision. However, this is the first time that fans can enjoy El Tri regularly in English as they prepare for the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Our primary mission at ESPN is to serve sports fans. That mission supersedes any concerns about working with potential competitors in the marketplace.
What should fans expect from ESPN’s presentation of the “El Tri on ESPN?”
We will treat the Mexican National Team with the same care and respect that we have shown other marquee soccer properties on our networks such as the FIFA World Cup, Major League Soccer, the English Premier League and U.S. National Team soccer. Having covered the team for years on ESPN Deportes and ESPNDeportes.com, ESPN is uniquely positioned to extend that coverage to its various English-language news and information franchises including SportsCenter and ESPN.com through our brand new soccer portal, ESPNFC.
Note:The first “El Tri on ESPN” presentation will be tonight at 10 p.m. ET, live from Phoenix, Ariz. (Mexico vs. Denmark) on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. Here’s the complete schedule.