USMNT Absence Benefiting Telemundo, WC Ad Inventory Nearing Sell Out


Telemundo, which controls U.S. Spanish-language broadcast rights to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, has announced Coca-Cola, Sprint and Volkswagen will be premier sponsors of their tournament coverage. Coca-Cola will be the presenting sponsor of the Telemundo Deportes Post-Game show and in-game match clock, Sprint has signed on as the official halftime sponsor for all 64 matches and Volkswagen will serve as the presenting sponsor of the network’s World Cup primetime show (7p EST). In total, 20 advertisers have signed on for Telemundo’s coverage of the quadrennial tournament; NBCUniversal is claiming network ad inventory is “approaching 75% sold out.”

Howie Long-Short: The absence of the USMNT from the 2018 World Cup has been a boon for Telemundo, as advertisers have chosen to forego spending with Fox Sports (own U.S. English-broadcast rights) in favor of the NBCUniversal subsidiary (note: VLKAY, VZ are not among them, they will be advertising on both networks).

While the U.S. team’s failure to qualify has helped Telemundo ad sales, it’s expected to hurt viewership. In ’14, matches featuring the USMNT on Univision (held U.S. Spanish-language rights) drew an audience 44% larger than other group stage matches. With no USMNT to build programming around, Fox has also increased their focus on the Mexican national team; coverage likely to pull viewers from Telemundo’s target audience, the 21 million bilingual viewers in U.S.

Telemundo is owned by NBCUniversal, a Comcast (CMCSA) company. NBCUniversal tabbed February it’s “best Feb ever” after generating $1.6 billion in incremental revenue from the Super Bowl and Olympics, so significant fiscal growth was expected when CMCSA reported Q1 earnings in late April. The company reported net income increased +21.2% YoY (to $3.1 billion), a figure that would have been higher had Universal Pictures not experienced a -16% YoY decline in revenue.

For those wondering, Telemundo is paying $600 million for Spanish-speaking broadcast rights to the 2018 & 2022 World Cups, while Fox pays $400 million for U.S. English-speaking rights to the same 2 tournaments.

Fan Marino: The U.S. isn’t the only high-profile country to have failed to qualify for this summer’s World Cup, as Italy (4x winner), The Netherlands (finished 3rd in ’14), Chile (No. 9 in world) and Cameroon (just 2nd missed WC since ’86) will all be watching from home as well.

Looking for a team to root for? Iceland is in the tournament for the 1st time and their Viking chant is among the best traditions in all of sports.

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