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Leagues: Champions League

Univision Deportes poised to attract Champions League viewers

In light of the announcement by Turner Sports where 80% of Champions League and Europa League games won’t be available on television beginning with the 2018/19 season, Univision Deportes is poised to attract English-language soccer fans who will watch games in Spanish to avoid having to pay the subscription fee to access Turner’s paid streaming service.

As the Spanish-language network has shown in its coverage of the World Cup, Liga MX and MLS, they are able to utilize multiple channels and social media platforms to increase the availability and accessibility for matches. Most importantly, Univision has also been able to garner a lot of English-speaking soccer fans who have gravitated to their coverage even when games are available in English.

While Turner Sports hasn’t made any decisions regarding who they will hire as commentators, analysts or presenters, we do know that Univision Deportes has a long history of understanding the passion and culture of soccer fans in the United States, no matter what language they speak.

“Soccer is the lifeblood of our community and we plan to serve our soccer fans in a way that allows for them to bring that passion to life on all platforms,” said a spokeswoman for Univision Deportes. “We have more soccer rights than any other U.S. media company along with the best teams in the world on the best multi platforms – all of which make UCI the undisputed home of soccer.”

Considering that none of the Europa League games will be on television via Turner except for the final, if UEFA Europa League games are shown live on Univision Deportes network, this could significantly impact the bottom line for Turner Sports when it attempts to sell its OTT sports platform to soccer fans. This could prove to be a gateway for Univision’s networks, particularly Univision Deportes, to gain new viewers among English-language dominant soccer fans.

Given the emphasis Univision places on the sport of soccer and the types of personalities they have broadcasting the matches, the decision by Turner to place about half the UEFA Champions League matches and all but one of the matches in UEFA Europa League behind a paywall is a massive opportunity for the network.

Univision’s target audience has expanded to including English-language dominant individuals and the millennial bilingual audience. It’s that millennial audience that Turner plans on targeting with its efforts That could prove a boon to Univision who may find that the availability of their products including via streaming services such as fuboTV, DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV may give them a leg up on trying to compete for that audience that might prefer to watch matches in English but does understand Spanish.

The willingness of Univision at an early stage to provide its product to streaming services that focus on marketing to soccer fans has already worked as a mechanism to increase awareness among English-language oriented fans of what soccer products are available on Univision, UniMas and Univision Deportes. Through services like Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW and fuboTV, Univision has already opened a door to the audience that might represent a large segment of Turner’s target for UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League coverage.

Univision didn’t necessarily openly compete for English-language viewers when they acquired the rights to the Champions League and Europa League. But in the changing dynamic of the television and broadcast industry as well as the new demographic taking hold among millennials, it would be stunning if Univision didn’t make such a play. We’ve seen already with NBC Universal’s Telemundo brand that they’ve embarked on an ambitious effort to win over English-language speaking soccer fans to their coverage of the 2018 World Cup and Confederations Cup.

We remind our readers that while Univision hasn’t announced its plans yet, they will no doubt benefit from Turner’s decision to stick so many games behind a paywall. Just how much they benefit will remain to be seen. But they have an opportunity now to craft their coverage around the segment of the audience that Turner might be ignoring or abdicating. The opportunity that presents itself for Univision might very well be worth seizing as they continue to seek bilingual viewers.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Champions League games on US TV and streaming

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Daniel

    August 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Looks like its time to torrent games and highlights.

  2. Jose

    August 19, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    The problem with TBS & TNT business model is that soccer fans in The United States are technically savvy, therefore finding matches on the internet will not be difficult. Overseas, there is a service that goes by the name of ZATTOO and they televise a good amount of Champions league games for free. Yes, there are not in English, but IT IS FREE.

    Smart DNS proxy makes watching games from Europe easy in the US.

  3. Nate

    August 18, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Great piece. I watch at least one matche on Univision a week. I know enough spanish to get the gist. I’ll tune in to Univision anyday rather than pay a subscription.

  4. Tom

    August 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    The Fox haters wanted Fox to lose UCL rights got their wish. Right out of the gate, Turner is already finding a way to lower the bar even further. Be careful what you wish for.

  5. Brendan Soraghan

    August 18, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Will it have English announcers as the secondary language . What about the highlight & magazine shows on Fox now will Turner be broadcasting them over cable or pay subscription

    • Christopher Harris

      August 18, 2017 at 7:39 am

      Turner will have the English-language rights, so it’ll be Spanish-only from Univision. Regarding the highlight and magazine shows from the Champions League, we’ll have to wait until next season to see what Turner and Univision plan on doing.

      • Scott

        August 18, 2017 at 9:53 am

        Thanks for your coverage here, as always. But I’m not sure we have to wait until next season to see what broadcasters’ plans are.

        Next Saturday, 10 AM EDT, all four or five Premier League matches will be “online/paid” only. There will not be one cable/satellite match (going by the schedule at this point in time).

        So, cable, and then an NBC online sub, and a Turner online sub, and a FOX online sub. BeIN too?

        • Christopher Harris

          August 18, 2017 at 10:00 am

          Scott, I agree with you regarding the way the industry seems to be heading. But my reply to Brendan was based on what information we have at this point (i.e. no definitive schedules for the highlight and magazine shows; it’s too early to tell). But based on Turner’s press release, it sounds like a lot of that content could end up on Bleacher Report.

          • Scott

            August 18, 2017 at 10:16 am

            Of course. And it very early days to speculate. But, it seems the gold rush to broadcaster paid streaming is only accelerating, and as a consumer, my thought was that online content would broaden the spectrum. While it might, it’s not going to be cheap.

          • Dan

            August 18, 2017 at 12:08 pm

            My guess would be you will get free short-form highlights of each game on Bleacher Report’s website (and its social media accounts), with the UEFA/Input Media-produced magazine and highlight shows being available via the OTT service.

        • MAHLUF

          August 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm

          There will always be a 10am ET match on NBCSN and sometimes an additional one on CNBC. They just don’t announce it until the Monday of each week.

  6. R.O

    August 17, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    As long as Univision doesn’t put majority of games on their Deportes channel (have to have Spanish language pkg to watch) and puts games on their over-the-air channels: Univision, UniMas & Galavision, that will be great.

    • Oliver Tse

      August 17, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      Univision has already announced the following:

      UEFA Champions League: for each time slot, 1 match on Univision Deportes Network, 1 match on UniMas. The final ONLY will air on Univision main network.

      UEFA Europa League: for each time slot, 1 match on Univision Deportes Network, 1 match on UniMas. The final will be on BOTH UDN and UniMas.

      UEFA Super Cup: live on BOTH UDN and UniMas.

      That leaves 48 UEFA Champions League matches during the group stage, 120 UEFA Europa League matches during the group stage, 24 UEFA Europa League Round of 32 matches, 8 UEFA Europa League Round of 16 matches, and 4 UEFA Europa League Round of 8 matches not accounted for.

      Because Spanish-language announcers are available for hire in the Miami market for around $300/day, Univision will need to spend less than $50,000 to produce the 48 leftover UEFA Champions League group stage matches and give them away via UnivisionDeportes.com and the Univision Deportes app in order to screw with Turner’s over-the-top paid offering.

      • Steve

        August 18, 2017 at 12:00 am

        Only $300 a day? wow! Thankfully I already watch most of my futbol in Spanish because I can’t stand the lackluster announcing from the in English broadcasts. Of course it helps that I’m bilingual and I understand what they’re saying so the paywall doesn’t affect me.

        • Oliver Tse

          August 18, 2017 at 3:52 am

          There is a glut of freelance sports announcers in the Miami market, in both English and Spanish. $300-350/day is the typical rate for that market.

          Freelancer who work regional soccer telecasts in English on most pay TV networks, including college-owned networks and MLS telecasts, generally are paid at least $700/day. Somewhere around $800-1000/day would be reasonable given the amount of preparation time required (4-6 hours of prep time for each match.)

          The top of the line soccer freelancers, i.e. Jon Champion, command top dollar. My educated guess? A producer needs to offer at least $3000/day in order to hire the likes of Jon Champion.

      • Kartik Krishnaiyer

        August 18, 2017 at 10:47 pm

        That’s more than USL Productions and NWSL’s media arm are paying English-language announcers in the same area (Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami but more or less the same).

      • Morgan Wick

        August 18, 2017 at 11:28 pm

        I strongly doubt Turner would be moving forward with their offering without an assurance from Univision that they won’t undercut it by offering Champions League matches they aren’t televising for free.

        • Oliver Tse

          August 22, 2017 at 7:23 pm

          Juan Carlos Rodriguez will not miss the opportunity to screw Turner over.

          Univision needs to spend less than $50,000 in production cost (2 voices and a producer/graphics operator combo) to make the 4 overflow UEFA CL matches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 3pm ET during the group stage, for a total of 48 matches, available either free or via authenticated access at UnivisionDeportes.com or the Univision Deportes app.

          Furthermore, Univision will have 4 UEFA Europa League matches live on Thursdays: 2 each at 1pm ET and 3pm ET, on Univision Deportes Network and UniMas.

          Let’s see how many OTT subs Turner can sign up.

          With that said, Turner can sell ZERO OTT subs and still turn a profit on the UEFA project.

          As long as every major cable/satellite TV operator were willing to accept the $0.06/month/subscriber fee increase, then Turner will raise $63 million/season in subscriber fees to cover the rights fee complete.

          However, if the likes of DISH (i.e. “Cheap” Charlie Ergen)) were to hold out (and dare Turner to drop truTV by purchasing billboards in large cities in conjunction with Univision Deportes), then Turner will lose at least $10 million/year on the UEFA project.

  7. Ivan

    August 17, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    I hope Univision Deportes shows Europa League games on tv. Absolutely disgusted with what Turner will do to CL and EL broadcasts next season. And just like NBC is trying to screw people into paying to watch the “overflow” games, I will NOT be paying the extra money to NBC or Turner. NOT A DIME!
    There are other ways to watch the games I want to watch! May Turner Sports go to hell; or, rather, go bankrupt and disappear off the face of the earth!!!

    • MAHLUF

      August 18, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Chill out guy. You seem stressed.

      It’s really not that surprising that the television networks are trying to recoup some of the millions of dollars that they spend on these properties. They are in the business of making money – just like everyone else.

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