Univision, Facebook Team for Social World Cup Broadcasts (Exclusive)

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Univision Communications is looking to make its expansive World Cup coverage interactive through a partnership with Facebook that will integrate social media into its broadcasts from Brazil. 

The broadcaster, which has the exclusive Spanish-language telecast rights to the event in the United States, plans to feature content from Facebook -- including posts from athletes and teams, fan comments, Instagram photos and data about trending topics -- multiple times a day during its coverage across its networks. 

"We want to give our fans a live experience and a more engaging experience, wherever they are," says David Beck, senior vp social media at Univision. "We have such an engaged audience on Facebook. We know they are interacting live during the broadcasting of these shows and we want to pull all of that rich content and integrate it into the broadcast itself." 

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Univision will devote its Univision Deportes Network to 24-hour coverage of the World Cup, which runs June 12 to July 13. It will broadcast 56 of the games live across its networks and will make all 64 matches available on its Univision Deportes app. The broadcaster has committed to running social segments throughout the tournament during pre-game coverage and on shows including Univision Deportes Futbol Club, highlight show Contacto Deportivo and Republica Mundialista.   

Beck tells THR that Univision will look to integrate the social network by asking fans to submit questions via Facebook that could be posed to athletes during post-game interviews, pulling posts and photos on a real-time basis based on what is happening on and off the field in Brazil, and collecting Facebook data on what the fans are talking about to help tailor its broadcasts.  

In order to do that, Univision is working with Facebook and third-party developers that have created toolkits to help broadcasters gather customized and relevant data quickly during live broadcasts. Facebook created a new layer of programming to provide such specialized data and live content feeds to broadcasters during the World Cup, explains Facebook's Bob Morgan, the co-founder of real-time data startup SportStream that was acquired by Facebook in December. 

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"That's an area that's a big investment for us, to make sure that as these moments are happening in real time we can get that content and that data back to our partners," he says. 

Univision, which is sending a crew of more than 150 to Rio de Janeiro, is the first partner to use Facebook's new World Cup technology on television. 

Says Beck: "Our goal is to create more enriching experiences and to bring new fans in to watch these shows." 

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