Univision Deportes has sought out rights to soccer for its programming. It appears that dependence on Mexico’s Liga MX, MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, the U.S. Men’s and Women’s teams, and Mexico’s national team is paying off in viewership. Starting this weekend, Univision Deportes along with its sister networks, Univision and UniMás will carry the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament involving both the U.S. and Mexico.
The New York Daily News says that due to this heavy diet of soccer programming, Univision Deportes has been ranked in the top five of cable sports networks in overall viewership over the last 16 months. In addition, its audience for MLS games regularly outpaces ESPN and Fox/FS1’s viewership.
And Univision Deportes hasn’t deviated from this strategy. It doesn’t seek out rights to super-expensive rights like NFL, NBA or MLB. Univision Deportes did air a weekly Friday night Top Rank boxing show, but that has been canceled.
“We’re in the business of becoming the home of soccer and super-serving the audience, regardless of language,” Univision Deportes President Juan Carlos Rodriguez told the Daily News. “We got the most appealing soccer rights available in the market for our audience.”
In 2018, Univision Deportes’ soccer properties will expand to include the UEFA Champions League, meaning that teams from all over Europe will be seen on the network.
“He who owns the rights will survive. We are pretty sharp into investing in long-term rights or the future of the company,” Rodriguez said. “Live events are always rating higher than studio shows.”
What makes Univision Deportes’ ratings even more impressive is that Nielsen says the network can claim 40% more viewers in primetime than the other Spanish-language channels in the U.S. combined (including Univision, UniMás, Galavision, Telemundo, NBC Universo).
Univision Deportes says the network has been cautious in its approach in buying rights to sports properties noting that they don’t want games to conflict with each other so you won’t be seeing college football as it would overlap with its soccer games.
Univision Deportes has been growing since it launched as a standalone network in 2012 and it seems to be on the right path.