College Football on U.S. Hispanic Sports Television: a Bold Brand-Building Effort

Guest author: Oliver Tse

Major Division I college sports returned to U.S. Hispanic sports television for the first time in 15 years on September 1st when FOX Deportes aired the Hawaii at Southern California college football game with Spanish-language commentary.

“We are thrilled to work with the Big 12 and Pac-12, and proud to expand our event portfolio by offering the biggest sports brands that reflect and serve today’s U.S. Latino,” said Vincent Cordero, executive Vice President and General Manager, Fox Deportes.  “U.S. Latinos are the New Face of America, representing the largest minority at our nation’s colleges, with 2.1 million students enrolled. Latinos comprise 74% of the growth in totalU.S.collegiate enrollment since 2010.”

“There are 500,000 more Latinos enrolled in our nation’s 2-year and 4-year colleges compared to African-Americans,” added Cordero. “Furthermore, 3 times as many Latinos are enrolled compared to Asian-Americans.”

FOX Deportes, which has about 20 million subscribers overall, of which about 6 million are Hispanic, is embarking on a brand-building effort with bold alternative programming strategies in an effort to reach out to young male Hispanic TV viewers, particularly in the ages 18-34 and 18-49 demographics, who are looking for something else to watch besides the two traditional staples of Spanish-language sports TV in the U.S. on weekends:  Mexican soccer and boxing.

“We are constantly looking for big brands, both international and majorU.S.sports brands, that provide compelling content to our audience,” said Cordero. “College Football provides a level of competition and enthusiasm plus incredible emotional ties.”

Besides 17 major Division I College Football games (all simulcasts of games shown in English on FOX or FX,  featuring mostly PAC-12 and Big 12 regular season contests plus the Pac-12 and Big Ten Championship games and the Cotton Bowl), FOX Deportes also offers Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Major League Baseball (including the World Series) among its live events.  Starting February 2013, FOX Deportes will add 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including live coverage of the Daytona 500, to its programming lineup.

To kick off FOX Deportes’ re-entry into majorU.S.college sports (since Pac-10 men’s basketball aired in January-March 1997), FOX Deportes has already aired 3 half-hour programs to introduce Spanish-speaking viewers to the history, the rules, and the culture of college football.

The College Football on FOX Deportes episodes, which aired on Saturdays at 9pm ET in August, were fast-paced with slick production values viewers would expect from FOX Sports Media Group.  Both the Big 12 and the Pac-12 were featured prominently.

“The Big 12 is proud of its long-standing partnership with FOX Sports Media Group, and we welcome the opportunity this increased exposure will have in expanding and energizing the fan base of Big 12 football,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Our member institutions will benefit from the exposure FOX Deportes will provide their football programs and universities to this tremendously significant demographic nationwide.”

“We are pleased that FOX Deportes will be showcasing our exciting brand of Pac-12 football this season,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “FOX Deportes is a leader in Spanish-language sports media and offers us a valuable national cable platform that reaches new fans in new places around the country.”

Veteran sportscaster Pablo Alsina (who broadcast in both English and Spanish at bilingual TV networks GOLTV and mun2 before joining FOX Deportes & FOX Soccer inLos Angeles) hosted the half-hour programs, which featured numerous interviews of players and coaches including 3 Spanish-speaking players:  UCLA Offensive Lineman Alberto Cio, Oregon Linebacker Christian “Kiko” Alonso, and Oregon Placekicker Alejandro Maldonado.

Alsina is scheduled to call all 17 college football games on FOX Deportes, with Los Angeles-based bilingual sportscaster Francisco Rivera, who had previously voiced Spanish-language content for the NFL Network, as the analyst.  According to Cordero, Alsina and Rivera will call the 14 regular season games from the studio of FOX Deportes in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, and they are scheduled to call the PAC-12 and Big Ten Championship games as well as the Cotton Bowl from the stadiums.

“Our primary objective and mission is to turn our regular FOX Deportes viewers into college football viewers,” said Cordero. “Our nightly news program Central FOX has been airing segments during the past 3 weeks to prepare our viewers for college football.  We are also cross-promoting college football during our other live events including English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, and Copa Sudamericana.”

“This is not an exercise to shift viewers from English to Spanish,” added Cordero.

Knowing that College Football on FOX Deportes will face stiff competition from Mexican soccer and boxing on most Saturday nights, and many 2nd and 3rd-generation Hispanics in the U.S. prefer to consume television in English instead of Spanish as they blend into mainstream culture, we won’t know how successful college football telecasts on FOX Deportes will be until Nielsen ratings become available.  Regardless of the result, many of us will be watching this bold effort from FOX Sports Media Group with keen interest.

 

Note: ESPN Deportes announced in May that college football with Spanish-language commentary will be one of several sports that will be streamed at ESPN3.com under the “ESPN Deportes+ por ESPN3” brand this fall.  An ESPN Deportes spokesperson declined to provide additional details for this article.

About the author:  Oliver Tse founded and operated soccerTV.com in 1995-2007 to provide direct marketing services to clients including ESPN, FOX Sports, and GOLTV.  He also founded and operated Oliver Tse Management Group in 2006-2009 to secure poker product endorsement for players appearing at televised World Series of Poker (WSOP), World Poker Tour (WPT), and National Heads-Up Poker Championship events.   Oliver lives in San Francisco and can be reached via LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/olivertse888

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