Official: Telemundo Lands FIFA World Cup Soccer

3:29 PM PST 10/21/2011 by Marisa Guthrie, Georg Szalai
Gary Gerschoff/Getty Images
Lauren Zalaznick

"The acquisition of one of the world’s great sporting events speaks directly to the commitment NBCUniversal has made in the future of Telemundo," says NBCUni exec Lauren Zalaznick.

NEW YORK – Telemundo Media confirmed Friday that the network has won the Spanish language U.S. rights to FIFA World Cup soccer from 2015 through 2022.

The announcement comes hours after news broke that Telemundo and Fox Sports had outbid incumbents Univision and ESPN, respectively, to land the FIFA package.

NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo made a joint pitch with NBC Sports, but the company’s focus was on winning the rights for Telemundo, which has seen ratings growth over the past year but still lags behind Univision, the top-rated Spanish-language broadcaster.

“The acquisition of the FIFA World Cup, one of the world’s great sporting events, speaks directly to the commitment NBCUniversal has made in the future of Telemundo and to our diverse U.S. Hispanic communities that we serve,” Lauren Zalaznick, chairman of NBC Universal entertainment & digital networks, said in a statement.

Added Telemundo president Emilio Romano: “Soccer is much more than a sport; it is a cultural phenomenon that inspires billions around the world and unites every community in a single language, the language of soccer.”

The deal is said to be worth more than $600 million, nearly double the $325 million that Univision paid for its current package.

Zalaznick, Romano, Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics & executive vp of strategic partnerships for NBC Sports Group, and Jorge Hidalgo, the network’s senior executive vp of sports, represented Telemundo in the network’s presentation to FIFA Wednesday in Zurich.

The deal covers all platforms except radio and includes the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, FIFA Confederations Cup and all Under-20 and Under-17 FIFA World Cup matches.

The deal marks a huge investment in Telemundo from corporate parent Comcast. And while the network will not recoup the rights fee in advertising dollars, it nevertheless serves as an important signifier that the company is committed to growing Telemundo.

"I was surprised that Telemundo won this," RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank said, adding that FIFA will largely serve as a "promotional vehicle for Telemundo."

“Everyone wants to get more marquee sports programming,” observed Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce. “[This] is about the aura effect [and] using it as leverage with advertisers to help lift ad rates for other programming."

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