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Univision, ESPN Score Digital Victories During 2014 World Cup

Both networks report record increases in traffic, livestreaming

Germany v Argentina: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final | Photo: Getty Images

Germany may have won the World Cup, but official U.S. broadcasters Univision and ESPN are both celebrating their digital performances.

Across all its platforms, Univision Digital said it had more than 27.5 million uniques during the global soccer competition. It had 25 of its highest trafficked days during the games, reaching the apex with 10.3 million visits on June 23.

Univision reported 73 million digital livestreams during the Brazilian matches, or about 15 Super Bowls worth of livestreams using February 2014 statistics from Fox Sports. About 10 million unique visitors watched a game live on one of the Spanish network's digital platforms. While it still pales in comparison to the 80 million who tuned in during Univision's broadcast, the numbers show promising growth in the digital space for the network.

"Soccer is primarily what we'll be focusing on. Soccer is the most played sport in high school now, and we believe it's going to be even bigger," said Mehul Nagrani, Univision Communications Inc. digital svp and general manager.

ESPN received a World Cup boost online as well. People tuned into more than 43 million hours of live viewing on WatchESPN, and it averaged 892,000 viewers per match. ESPN.com welcomed about 13 million unique visitors and saw 12 million video starts daily during the World Cup period, up 40 percent and 161 percent, respectively, since the 2010 South African games. And, its soccer portal, the revamped ESPNFC.com, saw 5.1 million video starts per day, up a whopping 970 percent since the last World Cup.

However, TV viewing trumped its digital efforts, with more than 291 million people turning on their TVs to watch ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC linear content during the 64-game event.

The most successful game online for both media companies was the USA vs. Belgium match on July 1. Univision Digital said it was its largest live stream ever with 1.8 million people tuning in. ESPN reported it reached 3.5 million unique viewers during that game.

Both Univision and ESPN promoted their soccer content through their apps, which provided analysis, bonus content, replay clips and other features in addition to the livestream. The Univision Deportes app was downloaded upward of 3.4 million times during the period. (ESPN, which had World Cup mobile content on its WatchESPN, ESPNFC and SportsCenter apps, did not have download numbers for this specific period.)

Univision Digital also reported that mobile traffic was up, with 87 percent of its online audience tuning in via connected devices compared to just 37 percent during the 2010 World Cup.

"We've talked about the Hispanic audience leapfrogging the general audience on mobile," Nagrani said. "We think the Hispanic audience is leading where the general audience will follow."

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