Telemundo, NBC Universo Unveil 2015 FIFA Schedules

Cable Net Home To U.S. Women's, U20 Group Stage Matches
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As part of its inaugural presentations under its multimedia rights deal with FIFA, NBC Universo will be the home of team USA group stage matches in the upcoming Women’s World Cup from Canada and the men’s U-20 competition from New Zealand.

Telemundo and NBC Universo, the Spanish-language cable network formerly known as mun2,  this year will combine to offer 560 hours of soccer action from those events, as well the Beach Soccer World Cup and U-17 competitions across multiple platforms

Coverage will include 344 hours of online and mobile live-streams making it the first time that all 52 matches of the quartet of FIFA tourneys will be made available in Spanish to a nationwide audience.

“We are proud to be the first media company to offer such a comprehensive coverage of FIFA World Cup events in the United States in Spanish,” said Joe Uva, chairman, Hispanic Enterprises and Content, NBCUniversal. “Starting in May, we will leverage all of our linear and digital platforms to bring to U.S. Hispanics the best soccer in the world presented by an experienced team of talent and professionals with a deep understanding of sports broadcasting and storytelling.”

The men’s U20 World Cup, scheduled from May 29 through June 19, and the 2015 Women’s World Cup from Canada, playing out from June 6 through July 5, are the initial competitions under the $600 million deal Telemundo reached with FIFA and covers competitions through 2022.

“This is a unique opportunity for Telemundo, NBC Universo and their digital platforms to provide unprecedented Spanish-language coverage of these FIFA events for our viewers,” said Eli Velazquez, executive vice president of sports at Hispanic Enterprises and Content, NBCUniversal.

Four days after the FIFA Women’s World Cup champion is decided, the men’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, hosted by Portugal, will take place from July 9 to July 19. It will be followed by the final FIFA World Cup competition of 2015 featuring U-17 national teams, which will take the pitch in Chile from Oct. 17 to Nov, 8.

Schedules for the Beach Soccer and U-17 tourney have not been finalized as qualifying continues, according to executives.

Last month, Telemundo and Fox Sports, the English-language rights-holder, both added  for an undisclosed amount – sans bidding --the rights to the 2023-26 cycle of FIFA evemts. The last year under that new pact  could include the men’s World Cup here in the States. The extensions were widely construed as a means to appease the parties because the 2022 event from Qatar officially has been moved into November-December period of that year, when it will compete for viewer/fan interest against the American football, basketball and hockey seasons.

"We will go where the games are,” said Velazquez.

He also extended congratulations to France, which will host the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

“The French women's team is really a factor in the group stage and beyond in 2015 in Canada,” said Velazquez. “ Looking to 2019, France is a  more favorable time zone than South Korea.”

After dropping a 2-0 decision to France in a friendly during January, the U.S. turned the tables on Les Bleus by the same score in the final of the prestigious Algarve Cup earlier this month (pictured.).

As to the more immediate futbol business afoot, NBCUniversal’s Spanish-language networks, which supplanted former rights-holder Univision, have released their lineups through the group stage, and will kick similar scheduling game plans into play in May, June and July.

For the under 20 competition, Telemundo will air live 10 matches, including all competitions involving the Mexican national team – three group stage matches --plus two round of 16 matches, a pair of quarterfinals, one semifinal and the championship match. NBC Universo has 21 matches, including the New Zealand-Ukraine opener, all U.S. national team group stage matches, two Mexican team simulcasts, four round of 16 matches, two quarters and one semifinal. It will also encore the title match,

Given 16 hour-time difference to the east coast, Velazquez said the programmer is still mapping its strategy for more encore presentations on NBC Universo.

The presence of Mexican and U.S. teams in the tourney aside, Velasquez believes the presence of Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay and other Latino-speaking nations will enable the programmer to appeal to the audiences we “super-serve.”

On the women’s side of the pitch, Telemundo also will air 10 matches, including the tourney opener between the host nation and China, a trio of round-of-16 matches, one quarterfinal match and the final. The cable network, which counts some 40 million subscribers, will feature 21 live matches, including all U.S..group stage matches -- as well as a simulcast of its competition, if it advances to later rounds -- four round-of-16 encounters, two quarters and both semifinals. NBC Univserso will also encore the opening and championship matches.

“We believe it is unique marketing opportunity for NBC Universo to be the home of U.S. women’s soccer during the group stage,” Velazquez.said, noting scheduling may place the team’s matches on Telemundo as the tournament progresses.

Asked to comment about Telemundo/NBC Universo's decision, vis a vis  Fox Sports' call to televise the entirety of the women’s event, in which the second-ranked U.S. is one of the favorites,  Velazquez said NBCU's schedule is “respectful and representative of where the women’s game is, and its growth” over the years.

Taking a page from NBC Sports Group’s playbook, the Hispanic Enterprises and Content unit will place heavy emphasis on letting viewers/users meet and get to know the players and coaches. Velazquez said the programmer, working with attendant federations,  already has sent crews to Latin and South America.

“We’re talking to some of the key athletes and coaches,” said Velazquez. “We want to tell the stories, so people can really start to follow these events and the participants and get invested. in them.”

He believes this approach not only will pay dividends in 2015, but for the rest of the FIFA cycle as it will enable fans to familiarize themselves with the best futbolers to come.

"Somewhere out there are the next Messsi and Ronaldos," said Velazquez.  "The next great players are going to come from these events.”

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