El Tri has some very loyal fans.
Univision averaged 3.1 million viewers for its presentation of the Mexico-New Zealand World Cup qualifier early Wednesday morning, according to Nielsen data, as El Tri finally secured passage to the 2014 FIFA finals in Brazil next June-July by topping the All Whites 4-2 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, N.Z. That total included 1.9 million persons 18 to 49. All told, some 5.4 million watched some or all of the match.
The second leg of the teams’ WCQ play-in matches deliveries were impressive considering the telecast aired from 12:49 to 3:04 a.m. (ET) and that Mexico had all but clinched the berth via its 5-1 win over New Zealand on Nov. 12 at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. That 3:30-5:30 p.m. telecast garnered 3.3 million viewers on average and 1.9 million persons 18 to 49. Given that decisive result, the All Whites would have had to outscore the Mexican men’s national team by five goals at home to advance to FIFA 2014 World Cup.
Univision, whose audience composition skews heavily toward Mexican-Americans, holds Spanish-language rights in the U.S. for the event. An El Tri absence would have been detrimental considering that Univision's coverage of Mexico’s 3-1 loss to Argentina in the FIFA 2010 round-of-16 match on June 27 of that year stands as the most-watched Spanish-language sports telecast in U.S. history, garnering 8.7 viewers.
Including the rights fee Univision paid to FIFA – $325 million as part of a multi-year, multi-tournament package that includes the competition in Brazil – it is estimated that upward of $600 million in revenue tied to rights, merchandising, sponsorship and travel packages would have been jeopardized if Mexico had failed to qualify.
El Tri was on the verge of elimination on Oct. 15 during the final match of CONCACAF qualifying. The team was about to fall to Costa Rica and Panama led the U.S. 2-1 late in that contest. However, a pair of stoppage-time goals by Sam’s Army vanquished Panama and kept alive Mexico’s hopes for Brazil, via the home-and-home set against New Zealand.
Now, El Tri has booked its ticket alongside the U.S., Costa Rica and Honduras as the CONCACAF entrants to the upcoming tourney in Brazil.
The 32-team, World Cup draw is scheduled for Dec. 6.