Spain's reign at the UEFA Euro 2012 final reached the apex of ESPN Deportes' Nielsen plane with the event.
Spain's 4-0 dismantling 4-0 of Italy in the championship match of UEFA Euro 2012 tourney netted a 12.9 Hispanic household coverage rating, 699,000 households and 1.13 million viewers with its July 1 telecast according to Nielsen data. The championship match was up 28% from the 10.1 mark ESPN Deportes recorded with the 2008 Euro final, while household impressions rose 96% from 357,000 and viewership leaped 75% from 647,000 four years ago.
All told, just under 2.2 million Latinos watched as least some portion of the Spain-Italy championship.
"We're very, very happy, if not surprised," said ESPN Deportes general manager Lino Garcia.
The tournament served to drive ESPN Deportes to its highest-rated and most-watched month to date in June, when it averaged a 0.9 Hispanic household coverage rating, 46,000 households and 62,000 viewers. Those marks eclipsed its previous marks in March 2009, when the service scored a 0.8 Hispanic rating, 35,000 households and 48,000 viewers.
The 27 live Euro matches that aired on ESPN Deportes averaged a 4.2 Hispanic rating, 220,000 Hispanic households impressions and 324,000 viewers, improvements of 50%, 120% and 138%, respectively, from the 2.8, 100,000 households and 136,000 watchers over 26 telecasts with the 2008 event.
Garcia said the 2008 tournament, which was played right after the network became Nielsen-rated, was "stellar," but time round the network was scheduled to air the final live from the outset -- unlike four years ago, when the game plan calling for ABC to air it exclusively in the U.S. was altered during the eleventh hour.
"We knew the tournament would be up on ESPN Deportes and with the general market. It was just a question of how high," said Garcia.
Garcia said that given ESPN Deportes' audience composition, it certainly helped that Spain performed well. At the same time, Garcia pointed to the June 24 Italy-England quarterfinal match -- it drew 619,000 viewers, the second-most for the event and the network's eighth-best overall -- as evidence of the network's broader fubol appeal (see the rankings below).
"There was some thought, before we became Nielsen-rated, that people were watching Mexican soccer and nothing else," he said. "Our audience definitely enjoys world-class soccer."
Looking ahead, Garcia believes ESPN Deportes will continue to push forward with the Nielsens through a combination of Mexican futbol, Brazilian soccer, World Cup qualifiers. involving the likes of Spain and Germany, as well as for the first time, coverage of the Europa League, the second-level club competition on The Continent behind the Champions League.
"More viewers are certainly watching our live event coverage," said Garcia. "But even when we don't hold the rights, they are coming to us for out studio shows, and news and analysis."
ESPN Deportes' growing audience is also paying off during the current upfront. Garcia, pointing out that Hispanic market typically moves after there has been significant activity in the general cable market, said that ESPN Deportes had registered about 50% of its upfront inventory just afer the Fourth of July holiday.
Deportes' deliveries aside, Garcia said the network is benefiting from more marketers that are looking to reach Hispanics through general-market properties -- as Ford did during ABC's coverage of The NBA Finals. In a first for the NBA and the Alphabet, the automaker ran a Spanish-language ad, replete with Englsh subtitles, for its 2012 Escape model during Games 4 and 5 of the championship series between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder..
Garcia said that in recent years there has been an increase in the number of Deportes units that have been sold alongside ESPN inventory.
ESPN Deportes Top 10 Euro Audiences 2008 & 2012
Match Date Households Viewers
Spain/Italy Sun 07/01/2012 699,203 1.13 million
Portugal/Spain Wed 06/27/2012 413,865 649,885
Spain/Germany Sun 06/29/2008 356,595 646,887
England/Italy Sun 06/24/2012 424,060 619,027
Spain/France Sat 06/23/2012 366,406 597,277
Spain/Italy Sun 06/10/2012 313,591 554,231
Germany/Italy Thu 06/28/2012 340,978 509,719
Portugal/Holland Sun 06/17/2012 290,947 382,055
Spain/Ireland Thu 06/14/2012 202,629 314,858
Italy/Spain Sun 06/22/2008 223,453 308,865