Univision’s TUDN has acquired the U.S. Spanish-language rights to this summer’s 2021 Copa América. The deal gives TUDN access to the 28 matches from this summer’s tournament, as well additional CONMEBOL events, including Women’s Copa América and Men’s Olympic qualifiers.
With the acquisition of the Copa América rights, the deal positions the Spanish-language broadcaster as the go-to network for soccer this summer. TUDN’s The Summer of Champions campaign kicks off with the UEFA Champions League Final on May 29 and continues through the summer with competitions including the Liga MX Guardianes 2021 Final, CONCACAF Nations League, UEFA EURO 2020, Copa América Argentina – Colombia 2021, CONCACAF Gold Cup, Campeón de Campeones, the MLS All-Star Game, and UEFA Super Cup.
“We are excited to see the crown jewel of South American soccer return to the Univision family as TUDN continues to double-down on its promise to provide the best soccer from around the world,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president of Sports, Univision. “This deal gives TUDN this summer’s three biggest soccer tournaments for a total of nine trophy competitions and 120 plus matches, marking a historic run of live soccer telecasts never before seen in the industry. It will be an action-packed summer for the home of soccer, and we look forward to bringing every moment to our fanáticos.”
In the world of sports business where change is always constant, it appeared that Telemundo Deportes was close to securing the Copa América rights in early 2020. And then the coronavirus pandemic struck, the 2020 Copa América competition was rescheduled to the summer of 2021, and the rights negotiations took a pause. When conversations restarted with CONMEBOL, Univision Deportes emerged as the new frontrunner with today’s announcement making the acquisition official.
It’s going to be a busy summer for Univision/TUDN. The 2021 Copa América (June 13 to July 10) runs almost in parallel to Euro 2020 (June 11 to July 11). What it’ll afford Univision is the ability to broadcast Euro 2020 games in the morning and early afternoons followed by Copa América games in the evenings for an entire month, followed by a month-long broadcast (July 10-August 1) of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Today’s news is a welcome relief for Univision. After Univision suffered the double blow of losing the Spanish-language rights to both the 2018/2022/2026 FIFA World Cups and 2019 Copa América tournaments to Telemundo Deportes, Univision bounced back by acquiring the rights to the UEFA club competitions. Now with the Copa América acquisition, Univision has been able to muscle out rival Telemundo Deportes who tried to acquire the rights for the U.S. market. Telemundo can focus on its Spanish-language coverage of the rescheduled Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Having rights to three major soccer tournaments over two months would be a major headache for most broadcasters, but Univision has big plans. Univision Communications already has the over-the-air Univision and UniMas networks, in addition to TUDN (previously known as Univision Deportes) and Galavisión. More details will be released soon, but later this month, Univision will launch its free, ad-supported Spanish-language streaming service titled PrendeTV (loosely translated as “turn on television.”) Coverage plans have not been announced as of press time, but PrendeTV will surely play a key role in expanding the reach of the Copa América coverage this summer.
With the streaming wars heating up between leaders Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Netflix, AppleTV+ and Peacock TV, Spanish-language content is missing out on the transformative change in viewing habits of U.S. consumers. PrendeTV plans to change that with live sports, linear channels and on-demand content. As many as 30 live, linear streaming channels are expected at launch — each focused on different categories such as sports, movies, news and comedies.
PrendeTV will be available via connected smart TVs as well as apps across OTT streaming devices and phones, tablets and computers.
With streaming making a big play in 2021 and beyond, competitor Telemundo Deportes is left without a compelling streaming service. In its way is Peacock TV, which is owned and operated by Telemundo’s parent company NBCUniversal. In the last few weeks, the streaming service has begun streaming soccer games in Spanish-language from Telemundo Deportes. But by doing so, it’s cannibalizing the far greater viewing numbers the broadcaster could have achieved for the same games on its television network.
Telemundo Deportes finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place — a Peacock TV streaming service that isn’t thought of as a destination for Spanish-language content, and a Telemundo television network that is prevented from broadcasting some soccer games when those games are available in English on Peacock.
While Telemundo faces several challenges, Univision/TUDN will be optimistic about the boost the viewing numbers for Copa América can bring. Looking back to the last time Univision had the rights to the tournament, the 2016 Copa América Centenario was a ratings bonanza for the Spanish-language broadcaster. With the benefit of games being played in the United States and featuring the host country as well as Mexico playing games in U.S. primetime, the 2016 final alone was watched by 6.8 million viewers across Univision and Univision Deportes.
While Mexico won’t be participating in this summer’s tournament, the competition features some of the most exciting national teams on the globe including Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay.
Anticipation is already building for the 2021 Copa América with Lionel Messi proclaiming that it’s his best chance to win a major trophy with Argentina.
As for the English-language rights to this summer’s Copa América, no decision has been reached as of press time. With Euro 2020 happening on the same dates, which will be quickly followed by the 2021 Gold Cup, plus Univision/TUDN attracting the vast majority of the viewers interested in Copa América, the value of the English-language rights to the competition are expected to not be as great as usual.
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