Telemundo pacts with Televisa for soccer

To air coverage of six top Mexico teams in the U.S. market

NEW YORK -- Telemundo Communications Group Sunday announced an agreement with Grupo Televisa that gives the U.S. Hispanic network broadcast rights to televise the home soccer games of six top Mexico soccer teams in the U.S.

Under the deal, Telemundo also will broadcast the designated teams' playoffs, semifinals and finals of the Mexican National Championship (subject to teams' qualifying for post-season play, effective Monday through Dec. 31, per a press statement.)

Telemundo will broadcast the home games of teams including: UNAM, Atlante, Tigres, Monterrey, Toluca and Atlas. The first televised game of a Mexico team is expected to air on Telemundo in about a week.

Sources said late Sunday that the deal came together as part of a competitive bidding process, though it was unclear which U.S. Hispanic broadcast networks competed for the rights to televise the soccer games of the six Mexico teams.

"The demand in the United States to view top quality soccer from Mexico is substantial and growing," said Ricardo Perez Teuffer, Televisa's vp of sports and special events, in a statement. "Together, we are assuring the U.S. market full access to a very special and highly sought after product through our unique content and distribution strengths."

The move to provide coverage in the U.S. of Mexico's top soccer clubs signals an interest by Telemundo to reach its U.S. Hispanic viewers with pertinent programming and serves as a way for the network to entrench itself as a key venue for top soccer programming.

The deal also comes on the heels of a successful ratings run by Telemundo with its "Rumbo al Mundial" soccer series, which has regularly garnered wide audiences and ratings' wins across key demos and in major U.S. Hispanic markets.

"This opportunity will strengthen Telemundo's position in delivering quality sports content that is relevant to the U.S. Hispanic audience," said Jorge Hidalgo, senior evp, network sports, Telemundo, in a statement.