Mexico’s World Cup Dream Is Alive, But Where Can Fans Keep Watching?

What's In An Acronym?

While Mexican sports commentators, news outlets and players like Javier “El Chicharito” Hernandez expressed their gratitude to God and the United States for keeping Mexico’s hopes alive of making it to the FIFA 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil, Univision executives must have uttered a collective sigh of relief last Tuesday night.

With the men’s national soccer team about to fall to Costa Rica, and Panama leading the U.S. 2-1 late in the contest on Oct. 15, El Tri was on the verge of being eliminated from the CONCACAF qualifying to FIFA’s famed tournament.

Mexico has made every quadrennial since 1994.

Then a pair of stoppage-time goals by Sam’s Army vanquished Panama and kept alive Mexico’s hopes for Brazil, where Univision will televise its last World Cup as part of a $325 million, multi-year, multiple-event deal with FIFA.

More than a little dinero and a few eyeballs are at stake with Mexican qualification or failure to do the same.

Univision, with a sizable Mexican-American base in its audience, recorded the top Spanish-language sports telecast in U.S. history during the 2010 World Cup from South Africa. Mexico’s 3-1 loss to Argentina in the round of 16 drew 8.7 million viewers, 400,000 more than the final in which Spain beat The Netherlands.

Having received more than a little help from its neighbor north of the border, Mexico, as the fourth-place CONCACAF finisher (Costa Rica and Honduras were second and third), must still defeat New Zealand in aggregate goal scoring from home-and-away contests next month to gain passage to Brazil next June.

Those play-in games could outdraw the 4.64 million who watched El Tri lose to Costa Rica’s Los Ticos on Oct. 15 on Telemundo, which outbid Univision for World Cup rights from 2015-22, and the 4.6 million who watched Mexico beat Panama on Oct. 10 on UniMas (the former TeleFutura).

Mexico will host the first leg on Nov. 13 or 14 and play against New Zealand’s All Whites in Wellington on Nov. 20.

Questions remained, at press time, about where Stateside futbol fans games could watch the matches.

Univision has held the rights to the home matches for the Mexican men’s national team, while Telemundo has aired El Tri’s away WCQ contests. But that arrangement apparently doesn’t apply to the play-in round against New Zealand, even though it is technically part of the World Cup qualifying process.

As of last week, neither network would discuss the lineup for the games with The Wire.

However, an official at the Mexican Football Federation said Univision would televise Mexico’s Nov. 13 or 14 match from Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium.

ESPN, which has inked an alliance with Univision around the Mexican squad, said it will also air that game in English here.

As to the second-leg away match, on Nov. 20, the Mexican Football Federation executive said the networks would have to work out an agreement with New Zealand Football to gain telecast rights. He said Univision, as the World Cup rights-holder, would have the first option to acquire match rights.

Negotiations, he said, are expected to be finalized shortly.

New Zealand Football representatives didn’t respond to Wire entreaties by press time.

What’s in an Acronym?

One side benefit of the government shutdown for those covering the FCC, as in Federal Communications Commission, is that one broadens one’s horizon if one has a Google news alert for “FCC” stories.

For example, in addition to the days- or weeks-old stories actually having to do with the federal telecom agency, there was the story of the FCC announcing a lockdown after shots had been fired. That would be FCC, the Fresno City College.

Then the Wire learned that “Immigration [is] creating new opportunities for agriculture, FCC says.” That would be Farm Credit Canada.

Then there was the headline: “FCC apologizes for delays caused by driverless train.” That turned out not to be a story about the wireless train control systems issue the Federal Communications Commission has been currently dealing with. Instead it was a story out of the U.K. about First Capital Connect (FCC), which apologized to commuters at St. Albans station about delays due to a train with no driver.

Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like the U.S. government over the past couple of weeks.

— John Eggerton

What’s in a Logo?

FilmOn has adopted a new logo, which combines its initials with a computer’s “on” button. But looked at another way, it almost looks like FU, which to some warped minds could be read as a message to all those broadcasters suing FilmOn and its ilk — the “ilk” being “Aereo” — in courts across the land.

The Wire brought the suggestion to the always quotable FilmOn founder Alki David, who said, sigh, others had already pointed it out to him. He said he found the idea “hilarious,” but insisted it was not his intention.

“Originally, the logo was the ‘ON’ sign button image, but that was problematic as many people used it,” he said. “So the F was good. FU however really is much better!”

— John Eggerton