TelevisaUnivision’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League for the 2022/23 season has a duality. Viewers will feel comfortable knowing that the quality level of production and talent feels very familiar. At the same time, there are many changes underfoot. The introduction of the streaming platform ViX adds a different dynamic that wasn’t there before.
To better understand the changes and to get a sense of the vision that the Spanish-language broadcaster has for the UEFA competitions, World Soccer Talk caught up this week with President of Sports at TelevisaUnivision Olek Loewenstein.
How ViX is shaking up its UEFA coverage
First, let’s get to the changes. None of the thirty two Champions League games for the first two weeks of the season appear on Galavision, one of the many channels under the umbrella of TelevisaUnivision. Another big change is that the non-televised games are now available on ViX or ViX+ as well as on TUDNxtra. For instance, out of the sixteen Champions League games this week, 50% of them are only available in Spanish-language via ViX+ (priced at $6.99 per month). Meanwhile, four games are available on the free ViX platform.
Suffice to say, a select number of Champions League games on TUDNxtra is a big change for viewers who have been accustomed to switching on the television (or logging in via TUDNxtra) and watching all Champions League games for free.
Nevertheless, select games are still available on television via Univision, UniMas and TUDN, as before.
“We will keep the best games on free-to-air [Univision], and ViX will become the hub for European soccer competitions,” said Loewenstein. “ViX will be the place where you’ll be able to see all of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA national team games.”
ViX has news, entertainment, shows and movies. But when the focus comes specifically to soccer, Loewenstein helped explain the strategy.
“It’s undeniable that streaming is going to be a big part of the future of sports,” Loewenstein said. “There are some people who say it will be the future, period. I still think there’s going to be a combination of platforms.
“The way we’re doing it is that we’re thinking of ViX as an outlet for soccer. In the past, with linear channels, we have very limited inventory especially in the world of soccer where most of the games happen between Friday and Sunday at concurrent times. On a linear network, you basically need to choose one game. The other ones, you just can’t program [on linear television].
“We thought of ViX as the place where we could cater to other Hispanics. So we acquired the rights for the Peruvian league, Argentine league, Brazilian league and the Colombian league. Those are leagues you can watch on ViX.
“I mention ViX in general because we have a windowing strategy. For most of these leagues, we have a ‘game of the week’ in front of the paywall, and the rest of the games behind the paywall. We have the same concept with Mexican soccer.”
Speaking of Mexican soccer, Liga MX continues to be the “bread and butter” of TelevisaUnivision’s success story when it comes to club soccer. Interestingly, though, the broadcaster has three times more non-Hispanics watching Champions League than the Mexican league, according to Loewenstein.
TelevisaUnivision’s interest in acquiring more soccer rights
In August, CBS Sports paid $1.5 billion to renew the English-language rights to the UEFA Champions League for 2024/25 through 2029/30. For the Spanish-language rights, UEFA and Relevent Sports have decided to pause the bidding process until the streaming landscape gets more competitive between ViX+ and Peacock Premium.
With ViX wanting to be the world’s largest streaming service dedicated to Spanish-language content, renewing the rights to a prestigious competition such as the Champions League is an important piece of their strategy.
Meanwhile, when asked about any interest in the rights to CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores that expire this year, Loewenstein replied, “We’re always looking at potentially acquiring rights but the problem at this point is that, for us at least, it needs to have economic value. We will go after every single piece of rights that are out there as long as it makes a return on investment for us. So it’s not a matter of whether we want it, it’s whether we can acquire it for the price that we’re willing to pay.”
‘The home of soccer’ in the United States
In conclusion, Loewenstein summed up how he sees TelevisaUnivision’s position in the broadcast world when it comes to soccer. “I think we’ve positioned ourselves in the market with probably the greatest team and combination of resources between Mexico and the US to cover the sport of soccer. And that is being reflected in the coverage that we do and the results that we have.”
Coverage of the UEFA Champions League continues this month on both CBS Sports and TelevisaUnivision.
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