The United States soccer team’s shocking elimination from the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament hasn’t dampened NBCUniversal’s projections for a record-breaking tournament performance on Telemundo, according to company executives.
“I think the 2018 World Cup will be the most consumed event in Spanish-language history in the United States,” said Jim Bell, president of NBC Olympics Production & Programming and executive producer, Telemundo World Cup, who spoke last Thursday at the Hispanic TV Summit during a panel titled “Trends in FIFA World Cup Coverage.”
While Telemundo -- which holds the Spanish-language television rights to the 2018, 2022 and 2026 World Cup tournaments -- will miss the U.S. men’s soccer team’s World Cup presence, Bell said that the network’s majority Hispanic audience will be tuning in to watch the breadth and depth of the network’s multi-platform coverage.
“It’s disappointing not to have the US in it, but if you look at it from a numbers standpoint, there’s 64 games in the World Cup and you’re counting on maybe three US games,” he said.
Added Lauren Molen, executive vice president of advertising sales, Lifestyle Group and Telemundo Enterprises for NBCUniversal: “Our audience is really hungry and passionate about soccer, and while none of us are happy about the US, we are thrilled to have fans that love the whole [World Cup experience].”
While too early to discuss specific World Cup advertiser deals, Molen said companies are responding favorably to the company’s World Cup pitch.
“The World Cup itself is the premium event in Spanish language television, and attracts a consumer base that can help amplify their marketing messages and sell their product in so many key categories,” she said.
Eli Velazquez, executive vice president of programming production and content for Telemundo Deportes, said soccer fans are already anticipating the Dec. 1 World Cup draw which will set the matchups for the tournament. “The drama created by the draw dovetails into the drama of the event itself,” he said.