The economy may still be stuck in the midfield, but Univision has already sold about 65% of its inventory and other on-air elements for the 2010 World Cup.
Among the companies already in for a multiplatform sponsorship with the network are FIFA sponsors T-Mobile, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Verizon Wireless and Budweiser, according to Univision executive vice president of network sales and marketing Peter Lazarus.
Lazarus, who noted that Univision has secured deals with a number of other advertisers for the futbol championship, said the Spanish-language media leader is ahead of its pace for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, despite the sluggish economy.
Lazarus said the company is proffering an array of assets, relative to 64 World Cup matches across Univision, Telefutura and Galavision; Univision.com; and Univision Movil.
"We also have a local component with the station group," said Lazarus, who noted that the company is still developing plans for its video-on-demand coverage of the World Cup, and sponsorship opportunities for Univision's push with that platform.
Univision is also targeting other FIFA sponsors who activate in the U.S.: Hyundai and Visa. "We don't have deals with them - as of yet," said Lazarus.
Lazarus said Univision is actively pursuing companies in the apparel, home improvement, retail, credit card, studio and automotive categories.
Lazarus said World Cup packages are part of the media company's continuing upfront negotiations.
Commercial inventory is available in pre-game, post-game and halftime segments, as well as logo/clock ID associations, especially for FIFA sponsors. Univision is also looking to integrate World Cup advertisers into entertainment fare such as weekday morning show Despierta América (Wake Up America), airing from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.; the weekday entertainment show El Gordo y La Flaca (The Scoop and the Skinny), which is stripped at 4 p.m.; and newsmagazine Primer Impacto (First Impact), which runs weekdays at 5 p.m.; as well as Saturday-night staple Sabado Gigante.
Univision has not yet sorted through all of its on-air enhancements for the World Cup. However, it will work with McDonald's on a consumer sweepstakes that will enable winners to accompany players as they walk onto the pitch. It will also provide Coca-Cola with an assist on a World Cup trophy tour, leading up to the tournament.
With a little less than a year to go until the world is focusing its attention on South Africa, Lazarus said he's looking forward to and is accustomed to selling in quadrennial cycles from his days handling the Olympics at NBC.
"Anytime you have a big property with a large amount of revenue at stake during a short window, like a Super Bowl, an NCAA basketball tournament or Olympics, it's a challenge," he said. "But we're looking at a really successful World Cup cycle."
For their part, ESPN officials declined to comment on the total sports network's inventory position for the World Cup. "We're in the process," said an ESPN spokesman. "We're further along than we were before."
Other soccer programmers are also looking to the World Cup, as the event approaches.
Gol TV, which has completed all of its upfront presentations, is in "the marketplace right now," said vice president of marketing Didi Montiel.
She's hopeful that Gol TV can score an entitlement sponsor for such World Cup-related programming as World Cup Chronicles (working title), six 30-minute installments recapturing some of the best and most controversial moments in the tournament's history.
Fox Soccer and Fox Sports en Espanol, both of which will be providing plenty of news, analysis and debate from South Africa, are also looking to add revenue next year.
"The World Cup always brings more dollars to the soccer marketplace," said David Sternberg, executive vice president and general manager of Fox Sports International. "You have the official FIFA sponsors looking to activate and their competitors trying to keep pace."