Sorpresa, MLS Search for Stars


Spanish-language kids’ network Sorpresa is asking kids to submit their online auditions to be Major League Soccer’s next sideline reporter.

The Juniper Content-owned channel has partnered with the futbol circuit to search for the next “Reporterito” (Little Reporter), someone between the ages of 6 and 17 who will go live from this year’s MLS All-Star Game in Toronto (July 24) and the MLS Cup 2008 in Los Angeles (Nov. 23.)

The reporter search is the first of a series of initiatives known as a “Juega Como un MLS Pro” (Play Like an MLS Pro), a seven-month joint program to promote the sport to young audiences. The program kicked off May 10 by using an MLS Futbolito soccer tournament in Los Angeles as a launch pad for online promotions and other initiatives to get children involved.

“There is a very strong component of user-generated content” in this partnership, said Sorpresa senior VP of programming María Badillo. Aspiring soccer reporters are being asked to upload a video featuring their reporting skills to through June 13.

The winner, who will be selected at the end of June, will receive all-expenses-paid trips to both the All-Star Game and MLS Cup. They will also serve as a sideline reporter for Sorpresa’s MLS sports segments.

In addition to the reporter contest, the initiative includes other user-generated content platforms, including “Fan MLS,” “Jugador Sorpresa,” “Desafío de Habilidades,” and “Pregúntale a un Pro,” where users can upload their own videos showing their sports skills or ask questions of an MLS player.

The campaign has a grass-roots component in “Verano MLS,” a six-week summer program which provides children ages 8 to 12 with a free opportunity to play pickup soccer games twice a week.

The whole initiative will conclude with a one-hour TV show scheduled for December, said Badillo.

“We are really excited about this, because being soccer so important to Hispanic audiences, it is also encouraging children to take up sports and exercise more,” he said.

Badillo marked Sorpresa’s fifth anniversary this week at the Cable Show in New Orleans, where the network said it has secured distribution in 22 of the 25 top Hispanic markets in North America, as well as more than 1.1 million cable and telco subscribers.