Univision is kicking off its new cable sports networks on Dish Network on April 7.
Univision Deportes Network will bow with a Major League Soccer match-up between the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls Saturday at 3 p.m. on DishLatino and the DBS provider's America's Top 200 package. Moreover, Dish is rolling out a sister sports service, Univision Deportes Dos Network, on DishLatino.
The launches are part of a far-reaching deal Univision Communications struck with the nation's No. 3 distributor in January. Featuring a mix of current and library novelas from Univision's vast archives, Univision tlnovelas bowed to DishLatino customers on March 1. A dedicated news channel, Univision Noticias is expected to debut sometime in the first half of the year. Dish is the first affiliate for Univision Communications' new cable services.
Following the MLS contest, David Neal, senior vice president of production Univision Deportes, says the network will step into the ring with Solo Boxeo Tecate: Special Edition from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. At that point, the network will premiere Futbol Central, a new show hosted by sportscaster Fernando Fiore, featuring the top highlights from the day in soccer and previewing the Liga Mexicana doubleheader pitting Santos versus Estudiantes Tecos at 8 p.m. and Monterrey against Tigres de la UANL at 10 p.m. a rivalry dubbed the "Clasico Regiomontano." Opening night caps with Univision Deportes Extra, a new nightly, hour-long, fast-paced wrap-up of the day in sports, created and produced exclusively for Univision Deportes Network.
The network's initial night is also scheduled to include the first of Fiore's two-part interview with "Chicharito," Javier Hernández Balcázara, the forward for Manchester United and the Mexican national team. The second installment will premiere on April 8.
Neal says the network will offer unprecedented access to Liga Mexicana, with more than double the number of matches than any other U.S. network. "What we're offering has very strong appeal to our viewers," he said.
Neal notes that in the top Mexican soccer circuit, each of the club negotiates its own TV rights, and Univision has secured deals for the home team matches of 12 of 18 clubs, plus away games for the rest of the circuit's sides. The network will also feature live Liga Mexicana playoff matches each season.
In addition, viewers will be able to see coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the qualifiers for the quadrennial competition, starting this June; matches featuring the U.S. and Mexican national soccer teams; the CONCACAF Champions League; the FIFA 2013 Confederations Cup; the FIFA Under-20 World Championships; and FIFA Under-17 World Championships.
While Latinos are very passionate about soccer and boxing, Neal says they also have an affinity for baseball, the NFL, NBA and UFC. Those sports will be represented on the news and highlight programming.
For its part, Univision Deportes Dos -- which will remain an exclusive service for DishLatino subscribes for one year even when the programmer inks other carriage contracts -- is more soccer-centric with some exclusive games, encore matches, preview and review shows. UDX 360 will be produced exclusively for the service, recapping all the news and highlights from the most recent weekend in Liga Mexicana.
Typically, Univision produces about 25 hours of sports programming per week, a total that will double to 50 with the new services. "The launches mean there will be a lot more original sports programming," said Neal.
The matches and original programming will be supplemented by fare from Televisa Deportes Network, which will air daily or weekly on Univision Deportes Network.
Neal says Univision's affiliate team is in "active discussions" with other providers and is confident there will be launches with other distributors.
Univision Deportes Network has elicited a strong advertising response from the automotive, beer, wireless and home improvement categories, according to Neal.
All of Univision Deportes Network's advertisers are previous sports sponsors with Univision: Volkswagen, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Corona, Verizon, T-Mobile and Home Depot are on board with the rookie service.
With much of the action centered on the pitch, Univision doesn't go away when the ball's in play, leaving marketers with logo-sponsored clock identification during match action. Traditional commercials run during pre-, post-game and halftime segments. Dish also local inventory at its disposal, according to Neal.
Underlining the U.S. Hispanic media leader's commitment to the service is the promo -- featuring Fiore and a sneak peek of the Chicharito interview -- that ran throughout Univision's cable networks, Univision tlnovelas, De Película, De Película Clásico, Bandamax, Ritmoson and Telehit, on April 6.
Moreover, broadcast networks Univision and TeleFutura and cable service Galavision combined on the company's first-ever promotional roadblock at 8:15 a.m. that day, as they simultaneously ran the 60-second spot.
"It's an amazing opportunity for our company. The roadblock, which was [Univision Communications president and CEO] Randy Falco's idea, speaks to the support and enthusiasm we have for this service," said Neal. "To say we're excited is an understatement."
The following Televisa Deportes Network programs will be broadcast daily or weekly on Univision Deportes Network:
"Tribuna Interactiva": A live, interactive discussion and debate about the latest sports news with viewers.
"Futbol en Serio. Punto": In-depth coverage of top headlines and review of soccer matches from around the world.
"Pasión": Sports experts discuss and analyze the world of sports.
"Estadio Total": Reports and interviews on the latest in sports.
"Acción": Quick and thorough recap of international sports.
"Recortando La Jornada": Review of the week in the world of Mexican soccer.
"Ahí va el Agua": A fresh and entertaining look at the world of sports with opinions and humor.
"Zona Águila": Fan headquarters for the Liga Mexicana club América.
"Zona Puma": Fan headquarters for the Liga Mexicana club Puma.
"Zona Tricolor": Fan headquarters for the Mexican National Team.
"Zona Azul": Fan headquarters for the Liga Mexicana club Club Cruz Azul.
"Zona Chivas": Fan headquarters for the Liga Mexicana club Guadalajara.