For the first time in the 101-year history of the NFL, the entire slate of Sunday Night Football games will be broadcast in Spanish across the United States.
Telemundo Deportes will televise NBC Sports Group’s 2020-21 Sunday Night Football package—including NFL Kickoff 2020 between the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs against the Houston Texans on September 10, the Baltimore Ravens against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving, and three playoff games—on sister network Universo.
Complementary NFL content including highlights, features and specials will be published across Telemundo Deportes platforms. Commentators Edgar López and René Giraldo will call the on-field action, while Emmy winner Miguel Gurwitz, Jorge Andrés and former Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Rolando Cantú will headline pre- and post-game studio coverage.
“It is a really big deal,” Telemundo Deportes president Ray Warren said. “We’ve never done Sunday Night Football in its entirety; we’ve done Thursday Night Football, and now we’re trying to come back full throttle and that’s part of the intention of the brand we’re building as the biggest, best global sports programming in Spanish-language.
“The NFL shield is the biggest and best global sports brand—they’re doing things in Mexico and they’re doing things in Europe. We love the idea of joining with them in that pursuit.”
ESPN first began airing NFL games on Sunday evenings regularly in 1987; previously some Sunday night contests were aired on ABC under the network’s Monday Night Football banner since 1978. ESPN Sunday Night Football aired from 1987 until 2006 when NBC took over the rights.
Last year, NBC’s Sunday Night Football was prime time’s most-viewed series for the ninth consecutive year, averaging 20.5 million viewers in 2019, a 5% increase from 2018, according to Nielsen.
“With a growing and incredibly passionate Hispanic fanbase, it is increasingly important that we provide choice in how our fans can watch games, so we are excited to provide an enhanced portfolio of NFL content through Telemundo Deportes platforms,” said Amanda Herald, vice-president of marketing strategy, operations and planning at the NFL. “We are pleased to now have the entire Sunday Night Football lineup available through the NBCUniversal family in both English and Spanish.”
This will be the eighth season Telemundo Deportes (or Universo) will televise NFL games. The network broadcast select games from the 2010-11 through the 2012-13 season, then again between the 2014-15 season and the 2017-18 season.
Telemundo’s first Sunday Night Football broadcast was between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins on September 26, 2010, though it was limited to New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Dallas markets. Universo broadcast seven NFL games, including Super Bowl LII, during the 2017-18 season.
The NFL in March 2020 announced the final of its six wild-card games to be played over two days this season will be televised by NBC on Sunday night. That broadcast will be extended to Telemundo and NBC’s Peacock streaming service.
“This is a big initiative for the NFL as well,” Warren said. “We think there’s a ton of opportunity. We feel it’s so complementary (to our soccer broadcasts). I don’t think people are going to come running to the NFL; I think we’re going to bring them into the tent through the greatness of the sport, the marketing, and tying them into the machine of NBC.”
The NFL has had its sights set on international expansion and influence, particularly through its International Series with games in the United Kingdom and Mexico. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, no games will be played abroad during the 2020-21 season.
While the NFL is stuck at home for the time being, an international audience will still benefit from its broadcasts, especially in Spanish-language. There’s 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.
The NFL has seen growth among its Spanish-speaking audience. An average of 757,000 watched Super Bowl LIV in Spanish on FOX Deportes’ linear channel (including connected TV decides), making it the most-watched Super Bowl in Spanish-language TV history; up 16% from 654,000 in 2017.