While viewership of Liga MX games declined in 2023 based on the latest TV ratings, Telemundo and its coverage of Chivas de Guadalajara has shown positive growth. In the United States, Liga MX fell behind the Premier League in its viewership, and much of that is a result of the fractured nature of the league. Univision has the rights to 15 of the 18 teams including the massively popular Club America. FOX Sports has a pair of teams. However, Telemundo and its coverage of Chivas has been the only one to show growth in the TV sector.

Speaking to World Soccer Talk, Executive Vice President of Sports at NBC Universal Telemundo Eli Velazquez says several factors contribute to Telemundo’s success. For example, the results of Chivas on the field and NBC Telemundo’s ability to work with other properties make for an array of great content. Yet, Velazquez first mentioned the brand of Chivas and the fact that it is a global institution, not just its on-field triumphs, as factors in Telemundo’s success.

“Chivas de Guadalajara, as an institution within the Liga MX framework, is the best team that the league has to offer as it relates to fandom,” Velazquez said. “That fandom crosses borders obviously in the US with the viewers that we cater to.”

According to Telemundo, Chivas games in 2023 averaged 28% more viewership than they did in 2022. That included the most-watched Liga MX game on Spanish-language TV in 2023 with the Apertura Final between Chivas and Tigres. By comparison, the average Liga MX viewership on Univision in 2023 was 30% lower than it was in 2022. Notably, that does not include the figures on ViX, the streaming home of all Liga MX teams except for Chivas. Regardless, it does show a major gap between Chivas and the rest of Liga MX when it comes to audiences in the United States.

Telemundo builds on Chivas culture to promote Liga MX viewership

Velazquez says Chivas has created an atmosphere around the club that is particularly fan-friendly, and that directly translates into viewership both domestically and abroad. Telemundo and NBC pride themselves on broadcasting the ‘biggest and best’ teams and leagues in sports. With coverage of the World Cup, Premier League, NFL, and other global competitions, NBC takes pride in what it shows.

“In this case with Chivas, we work very intimately with them to make sure we are garnering the best content both on and off the field that complements our coverage across our platforms.”

The main platform Velazquez alludes to is Peacock, the streaming home for NBC Universal. The broadcaster simulcasts games on Telemundo via Peacock, an area the company has put a major emphasis on of late. For example, NBC aired an NFL Wild Card Playoff Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins exclusively on Peacock. Soccer fans will be familiar with NBC putting four to six games exclusively on Peacock. Using the streaming platform as a hub plays a role in what makes Chivas so successful in the American market.

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“One of the things we’ve learned is that people want to consume [entertainment] with convenience. We go out of our way to make sure they can find it and consume it in a manner they find most appropriate and natural to them.”

Success as a driving force

It also helps when the club Telemundo is broadcasting is one of the most successful clubs in Mexican history. Regardless of what sport one looks at around the world, the most successful teams have the biggest following. As an example, Real Madrid is arguably the biggest soccer team in the world. Fourteen European Cups and Champions Leagues certainly play a role in that development.

“Success in viewership is important for any league, any club or any institution is important. With success comes opportunity and excitement. You are able to attract new fans and new viewers.”

Look no further than Telemundo’s most-watched Chivas de Guadalajara game of all time. The broadcaster broke that record twice in 2023. The first was the Liga MX Clausura semifinals against Club America. El Súper Clásico in Mexico is no stranger to drawing major crowds. In 2023, a fixture at the Rose Bowl between Chivas and America pulled in 84,000 spectators. On May 18, 2023, 1.919 million people watched Chivas-America on Telemundo. Then, 10 days later, 1 million more people watched Chivas in the Liga MX Final second leg against Tigres. In total, Telemundo garnered 2.94 million viewers for that game.

The digital and social teams at Telemundo have also worked to build anticipation for these events. Generally, that is easier when it is the de facto championship game for a league. Regardless, Chivas’ success in having consistent success in Liga MX has allowed it to grow its audience. Telemundo had four Chivas games that surpassed 1 million viewers. Three of those were in the Final Phase, or playoff stage, of the league.

A push for other teams in Liga MX?

Telemundo recently came to a multi-year deal to broadcast Chivas home games in Liga MX. That holds the partnership together for the near future. However, the success Chivas has shown on Telemundo could push other Liga MX clubs and the broadcaster itself to pursue a new agreement.

“That is not to say we could not do it with other teams as well. We can walk, talk and chew gum at the same time with no problem. The exposure we have to these international events that we have the pleasure of dealing with and executing has also taught us the kind of content our fans want and how they want to consume it across different platforms.

“We’re always open for consideration of new business opportunities that will drive our consumption and viewership forward. We’re always willing to talk to anyone who is interested in perhaps partnering with us and seeing how we can amplify those particular opportunities if they make sense for us financially.”

Velazquez also noted that even if NBC Telemundo Enterprises adds more teams, the quality of coverage in its varying properties will not change.

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