ESPN Signs a New Deal

espnOver the last couple of days, one of the big business stories was the announcement that ESPN will be the home of English language broadcasts of Mexican soccer through 2014.   Specifically, the network will have rights to all Mexican National Team home games, including World Cup qualifying matches.  Per Mediapost.com, “ESPN gets English-language rights across all platforms, while Univision maintains the rights in Spanish. Both will carry the 2014 World Cup in the respective languages. Games could air on various networks run by ESPN and Univision.”  The package will include 20 games over the next two years.

The deal could have significant ramifications for both ESPN and soccer in America.   The popularity of El Tri in the United States is unquestioned.  Ratings for the Mexican National Team are routinely outstanding and typically outpace USMNT ratings.  When Mexico played the United States in 2011, 9.5 million people tuned into the Univision coverage.  In 2012, when the USMNT traveled to Azteca for a friendly for the first time in almost two decades, more than 8 million people tuned into the game on Univision.  However, Univision is a Spanish language station; what type of ratings will El Tri friendlies draw on ESPN?
From a USMNT perspective, does the ready availability of Mexican soccer run the risk of creating a legion of American fans of the Mexican national team.  Does the United States (by way of the Worldwide Leader) run the risk of creating competition for its own National Team within its own borders?
Regardless, this is yet another sign that the beautiful game is increasing its appeal in this country.  That a foreign national team could have its own television deal , would have been unthinkable 10, 20, 30 years ago.
Here is ESPN’s take on the issue.
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