When the national teams from the U.S. and Mexico collide in the next match for CONCACAF qualifying for the FIFA 2010 World Cup, Telemundo and cable cousin mun2 will have the exclusive telecasts here in the States.
Kicking off at 3:55 p.m., the Aug. 12 match from Estadio Azteca in Mexico City will air in Spanish on Telemundo and in English on mun2, which now counts some 31 million subscribers.
The match will mark the first-ever live sporting event to air on Telemundo and mun2 simultaneously and the first time the cable network airs a major sporting event.
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
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 netted 1.2 million viewers on ESPN2, makig 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.
The Mexican Soccer Federation controls rights to the team and its home matches during World Cup qualifying. Telemundo's contract with the Mexican national team contract extends through qualifying and right before World Cup 2010. Network officials said they want to renew the rights deal.
Telemundo's last Rumbo Al Mundial match, Mexico against El Salvador on June 6, averaged 3.47 million viewers. During its World Cup qualifier coverage this year, Telemundo has averaged 2.73 million viewers, up 64% from 1.66 million during the 2005 cycle.
On Telemundo, coverage of Rumbo Al Mundial - Mexico vs. USA, La Hora de la Verdad, begins at 3 p.m. (ET). It will be hosted by Telemundo's sports experts Andrés Cantor and Sammy Sadovnik, and feature Karim Mendiburu reporting from the stadium with the fans' perspective before the match and Kaziro Aouyama on the sideline during the game. Jessi Losada will serve as the studio host.
Mun2 expects to announce its on-air talent shortly.
"Rumbo al Mundial's record breaking performance once again underscores that Telemundo is the ultimate destination for great soccer presented by the best sports team in the business," said Telemundo president Don Browne in a statement. "In addition to offering the best soccer to Telemundo viewers, we are now proud to be able to expand our reach and bring this exciting game to a wider audience."