Sunday December 3, 2023

Telemundo’s Spanish-Language World Cup Viewership Is Skyrocketing

  • The first week drew record Spanish-language numbers for Telemundo, Peacock, and Telemundo streaming platforms.
  • Telemundo estimates that its World Cup coverage reached 22% of the Hispanic population in the U.S. over the first week of the tournament. 
Messi raises fist in celebration during World Cup match against Mexico
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports
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La Copa Mundial ha superado al fútbol americano.

To be more precise in English, Telemundo’s World Cup coverage has matched NBCUniversal’s best NFL streaming numbers at least once so far, and Peacock has become a destination even for some of those who don’t speak Spanish. 

The first week drew record Spanish-language numbers for Telemundo, Peacock, and Telemundo streaming platforms — and through 24 games, viewership is up 24% vs. 2018.

“The number of minutes they’re consuming on Peacock is something [NBCUniversal execs] have never seen,” Telemundo Deportes President Ray Warren told Front Office Sports from Telemundo’s compound in Doha. “This blew their minds because it’s an awakening for the whole company as to how well Spanish-language [broadcasts] can do streaming.”

Streaming accounted for 26% of Telemundo’s viewers through the first week of the tournament — a number that is often in the single digits for major sporting events. 

  • Last weekend’s Argentina-Mexico game averaged 2.08 million viewers across Peacock and other NBCUniversal streaming platforms, a third of what was streamed by NBCUniversal for February’s Super Bowl LVI. 
  • It was the most-watched group-stage game in Spanish-language history.
  • The most-watched NFL game this season on the same platforms was the “Sunday Night Football” opener (1.74 million). 
  • The Mexico-Poland game that started at 11 a.m. ET last Tuesday averaged 1.35 million streaming viewers, more than the Thanksgiving night game between the Vikings and Patriots (1.2 million). 

Peacock has flourished during this World Cup in a way Fox Sports is largely unable to do. 

Peacock allowed viewers to watch the first 12 games of the World Cup for free, but it appears many stayed on via a Black Friday deal that cut the monthly cost from $5 down to $1 for the service’s base package.

That allows consumers who don’t have a cable, satellite, or streaming service like YouTube — which Fox requires for a live stream — to watch all the World Cup games without an antenna at a much lower price even outside a holiday deal. 

Yes, they will be in Spanish. But an estimated 45 million people speak Spanish in the U.S. as a first or second language — and a good portion of that audience is turning to Telemundo on linear TV and streaming.  

  • Telemundo estimates that its World Cup coverage reached 22% of the Hispanic population in the U.S. over the first week of the tournament. 
  • During World Cup games, Telemundo has been the top-ranked network — in any language — in Miami 88% of the time followed by Los Angeles (83%) and New York (33%).
  • Telemundo averaged 8.9 million total viewers for Mexico-Argentina; Fox averaged 3.9 million for the same game. 

Telemundo paid $600 million to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, $175 million more than Fox. 

The company has 290 staffers working the World Cup, nearly double Fox Sports’ reported headcount. And, unlike Fox, Telemundo has reported on deaths of migrant workers, Qatar’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, and women.

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After watching NBC’s Mike Tirico call out China for its persecution of its Uyghur Muslim population at the Winter Games in February, Warren called Telemundo Executive VP Eli Velazquez. 

“I worked for NBC Sports for 10 years before I came to Telemundo,” Warren said. “I called Eli and said, ‘We have to do that in Qatar.’ Just the facts. We aren’t going to editorialize. You have to report it. How can you not?”

Telemundo’s World Cup coverage is being promoted across NBCUniversal, potentially luring English-only viewers. FIFA allows Telemundo to call it the “World Cup” and not only “La Copa Mundial.”

“They said, ‘You can say World Cup, but you have to say it’s a Spanish-language broadcast on Telemundo,’” Warren said.

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