Ray Warren will admit he wasn’t the biggest soccer guy when he was hired as Telemundo Deportes president in September 2016.
“It’s been one of the great discoveries of my career,” said Warren, who previously served as CRO for NBC Sports Regional Networks. “Once you get into global soccer, you realize how big it is.”
Warren, who oversaw Telemundo’s coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2019 Copa América, wanted to continue to expand on the network’s soccer offerings. With a desire to be the home of the biggest and best global sports in Spanish-language, Warren sought another important arrow to add to his quiver.
Telemundo Deportes announced on July 16 it reached an exclusive multi-year rights agreement to broadcast Liga MX’s Chivas de Guadalajara home matches in Spanish and English across all Telemundo platforms, beginning with the 2020 Apertura tournament which kicks off July 24—it will be the first Liga MX match broadcast on the network since 2015. In addition to the men’s team, Telemundo Deportes will carry rights to the women’s team, Chivas Femenil, and the club’s youth team Cantera Rojiblanca.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed when requested.
“It is as important as anything we’ve done in quite some time,” Warren said. “Chivas is a historic, legendary team considered by many to be the second Mexican national team. … Getting Chivas is a gigantic win.”
In October 2011, Telemundo acquired the Spanish-language rights to the FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cup—Fox has the English-language rights—through 2022 for $600 million; the deal was extended in 2015 through the 2026 tournament to be held in North America. While in Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the network secured the rights to broadcast Copa América the following summer.
These were massive gets for Telemundo, which relies heavily on soccer and soccer-based programming for its sports offerings, which also include the English Premier League, Olympics and Boxeo Telemundo. The market is certainly there with an estimated 59.8 million Hispanic people in the United States, comprising nearly 20% of the country’s population. An estimated 41 million U.S. residents speak Spanish at home.
Warren said 12-time Liga MX winners Chivas is another way to galvanize the network’s American-based soccer audience around their broadcasts. Not only will Telemundo broadcast Chivas matches, but the network and club will create additional multimedia content, programming and promotional opportunities to enhance the brand experience across ComcastCMCSA and NBCUniversal properties, including new OTT platform Peacock, which launched July 15.
Warren said Telemundo isn’t stopping here, but is exploring bolstering its soccer and Liga MX offerings by potentially adding another club to its roster.
“We have a bar we set in terms of biggest and best, and we started with a good one and would like to add at least one more, I’d say,” Warren said. “We’ll be on air every other week (with matches) and it would be great to have two teams and a game every week.
“This is like our Sunday Night Football. Do we want to have eight, 10 or 12 teams? I don’t know, but never say never.”