ESPN Deportes has enlisted home-improvement chain The Home Depot as the main sponsor for the U.S. premiere of Capitales del Fútbol, a documentary-style series centering on the world’s most popular soccer cities.
The series is not new; it first aired across Latin America, and became ESPN in Latin America’s highest-rated original series ever, reaching more than 10 million viewers in the region.
The first episode to screen in the U.S., featuring Barcelona, aired Oct. 9. An episode featuring Mexico City is next up, set for Oct. 23.
“We wanted to paint a special picture of a city, and show it through the world of soccer,” Juan Alfonso, VP of international marketing and programming development at ESPN Deportes, said.
Capitales del fútbol is a co-production with 100 bares, an Argentina-based production company, and features notable appearances by soccer stars including Dutch player Johan Cruyyff; Spanish footballer Xavi Hernandez and Argentine player Sergio Agüero.
The series is unusual in that it was originally conceived as a branded-entertainment property for client MasterCard, which was involved from its conception.
“It all began with a conversation we had with [MasterCard],” Alfonso said of the original plan, in which the credit-card company wanted to focus on some of the region’s main capitals. “We aligned their needs with a great story and production values and Capitales del Fútbol was born.”
Given the series’ success in Latin America, ESPN is now bringing it to U.S. Hispanic fans and has sold the idea to The Home Depot. A spokesperson confirmed that MasterCard is not involved in the U.S. broadcasts.
In addition to Barcelona and Mexico City, other cities feature include Manchester, Sao Paulo and Bogotá, which will air through Dec. 4. Four additional episodes, featuring Buenos Aires, Madrid, Milan and Rio de Janeiro, will air in 2013.