With mun2 holding its exclusive English-language rights to the Aug. 12 World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico, NBC Universal will make the bicultural youth service available as a free preview to all its distribution partners that day.
The Rumbo Al Mundial World Cup qualifier pits the U.S. for Mexico in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, with the telecast kicking off at 3:55 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 12.
The match, which will be simulcast on broadcast brethren Telemundo, marks the first major sporting event mun2, which aims at bicultural Latinos ages 18 to 34, will air.
Play-by-play man Phil Schoen and analyst Marcelo Balboa, former defender for the U.S. national team with over 130 caps, will call the action.
NBCU officials said mun2, which counts some 31 million subscribers, has already received commitments from distributors for the preview at this stage that will put it before 56 million households. To that end, satellite leaders DirecTV and Dish Network plan to open up the network to their entire subscriber base that day.
Officials at the programmer said distributors interested in carrying the network should call their NBCU distribution representative.
The free preview of mun2 will be promoted in each market with comprehensive marketing support that includes customizable cross channel spots; Web banners; customizable postcards; e-blast to customers; and mun2 premiums. Moreover, consumers will be able to find where mun2 is available through the distributors Web sites and holamun2.com channel finder.
Halfway through, Uncle Sam's Army sits second in CONCACAF qualifying with El Tricolor fourth, but with several home matches in hand. The top three teams from the region automatically make it, while the fourth-place finisher squares off against the fifth-place finisher from South America to secure a berth in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The U.S. has never won a World Cup qualifier in Mexico (0-12-1). The Feb. 11 CONCACAF qualifier, won 2-0 by the Americans in Columbus, Ohio, scored with 1.2 million viewers on ESPN2, making it the network's most-watched World Cup qualifier to date. On Univision, the same match drew some 5.9 million, according to Nielsen data.
ESPN had expressed interest in gaining English-language TV rights to the game, but was unable to come to terms with the Telemundo. The giant sports programmer had succeeded in those pursuits for similar matches in 2001 and 2005, according to the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Mun2's coverage of the match will be preceded by a special edition of The mun2 Shuffle, which will include fun facts and taped music performances. Immediately following the game, mun2 will also air a special, The Best of mun2, providing the prospective audience with highlights of all of mun2's original shows like The Chicas Project,The mun2 The Hook Up, Reventon Countdown and 18 and Over, among others.
"This is a first, airing a live sporting event on Telemundo and mun2 simultaneously in Spanish and English," said Henry Ahn, executive vice president, TV Networks Distribution, NBC Universal, in a statement ."The fact that it is the highly anticipated USA vs. Mexico soccer rivalry, available to the industry for free, is a terrific and unique opportunity."
Added mun2 senior vice president and general manager Alex Pels: "By offering a live a major sporting event on mun2 free-of-charge to the industry, we hope that all soccer fans and sports enthusiasts will recognize mun2 as uniquely American, game changing, connected and smart - our brand attributes. It is a great opportunity for new viewers to sample our quality programming and to see an historic game produced by Deportes Telemundo, the best sports team in the business."
Mexico trounced the U.S. 5-0 in the final of the Gold Cup tournament on July 26 at Giants Stadium