Telemundo Deportes, the U.S. Spanish-language sports network, announced on Wednesday details for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The network will air 500 hours of TV coverage across Telemundo and its sister channel Universo, and more than 1,000 hours of programming and original content across social and digital platforms as part of its first time broadcasting the biggest fútbol tournament in the world.
Focusing on culture and the World Cup's international appeal, Telemundo's aim is to not only attract the Spanish-speaker but also use the World Cup as a way to attract the global fan, regardless of language. From pre and post-match analysis to fan interaction through social media the network wants to let the soccer fan know this is the place to watch the World Cup and language, therefore, should not be the issue.
"We want to create a cultural movement, and literally a mind shift to Telemundo," said Ray Warren, president of Telemundo Deportes, speaking in a conference call from Miami. "And also move away from previous people who have had the World Cup, and those who may have it in a different language this year. We want to let everyone know we will have the most exciting and authentic coverage to all Hispanics across all platforms regardless of language."
Led by the legendary announcer Andres Cantor, who will be participating in his 10th World Cup (eighth as play-by-play commentator) the talent includes Sammy Sadovnik, Miguel Gurwitz and Ana Jurka as well as other well-known names in the Latino soccer world. From Colombian star Juan Pablo Angel to Argentina's Juan Pablo Sorin, this is a diverse group, firmly putting the focus on Latin America, especially since the United States is not taking part in the tournament. Other names include Carlos Hermosillo, one of Mexico's greatest ever scorers, as well as Argentine Horacio Elizondo, the former referee who famously sent off Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup final for headbutting Marco Materazzi.
"I think it's fair to say this will be the most consumed event in Spanish-language history," said Jim Bell, executive producer of Telemundo's World Cup coverage. "Given the proliferation of screens and social and digital, we see the Telemundo world on any device to be enjoyed for the World Cup."
The team stressed ad sales are not hurt by the U.S. not taking part, and if anything it's a great opportunity to rip the benefits of the nine Latin/Hispanic teams that are taking part. Seeing as US-Hispanics are extremely active consumers, it's no surprise ad marketers see this World Cup as a chance to appeal to the Latino audience.
Russia's broadcasting will take place in Moscow's Red Square and inside the venues, and fans can have access via both networks (56 matches on Telemundo and eight on NBC Universo) and Telemundo's digital platforms. There will also be a full-service virtual reality app, allowing fans to enjoy select content from a virtual VIP suite; with the hope of making you feel you're in the stadium. Additional programming will come from the new $250 million Telemundo Center in Miami set to be unveiled in January.
The network is also excited about the World Cup nightly show at 7 p.m., hosted by Karim Mendiburu, which will feature highlights and stories from the day's matches. There will also be musical guests and other celebrities as an aim to connect the tournament with the entertainment world.
Telemundo's rise in the US-Hispanic market has been going through a fruitful 2017: by the end of 2017 and for the first time ever, Telemundo will be the number one Spanish network in primetime. The network covers 94% of U.S. TV viewers and looks to build on this momentum with Russia 2018.