On Hispanic-TV Front, Copa Coverage Could Take The Cake

Telemundo’s got the Olympics, but rival’s telecasts may get the ratings

The nation’s two largest Spanish- language networks both have exclusives on international sporting events this summer, and the one carrying the Olympics appears to be at a serious disadvantage in the ratings contest.

Based on past numbers, Univision’s telecasts of the Copa America soccer championship this month are expected to draw an audience of 18- to 49-year-old Hispanic men that is four times the size of the group’s Summer Olympics viewership, media executives said. The Copa has drawn sponsors such as Southwest Airlines and Frito-Lay, and is a tough break for Univision’s smaller rival, Telemundo, which, with parent NBC, is carrying the Athens Olympics starting Aug. 13.

The Copa, which culminates in the championship game on July 25, began last week with a live broadcast of Colombia’s 1-0 victory over Venezuela in Lima, Peru.

“After the World Cup, it’s the largest audience for a sporting event among Hispanic viewers,” said Laura Nieto, advertising manager at Southwest Airlines, which is running a new campaign on the broadcasts that promotes the carrier’s Spanish-language online booking tool. “We’re counting on growing our share of the Hispanic market.”

Southwest’s campaign was created by Dieste Harmel & Partners, a Dallas agency that also did Spanish-language spots for Frito-Lay.

While the Olympics offers a chance to reach mass audiences on NBC and a targeted audience on Telemundo, the Copa reaches coveted viewers at a more economical rate, buyers said. The last Copa in 2001 drew about 3.5 million viewers and had a 42 share, but this year’s event is expected to be similar to the 2002 World Cup, which nearly 2.9 million Hispanics watched on Univision, according to Nielsen Media Research. By comparison, the 2000 Summer Olympics drew only 756,000 Hispanic viewers for a 13 share, per Nielsen.

Buying one 30-second spot on each of the 26 Copa broadcasts on Univision and sister network Telefutura would cost an advertiser about $1.3 million, according to Bob Nichol, president of Southwest Media Group in Dallas. A single 30-second spot during the championship match is selling for $100,000-125,000, Nichol said. For that, clients reach a target in a state of high emotion, agency execs said.

“Copa is just huge for people who are from the countries that are competing,” says Tomás Ruiz, media planning supervisor at Bromley MS&L in San Antonio.

The Copa broadcasts’ other major sponsors include General Motors, McDonald’s, Miller Brewing, Wendy’s and Verizon Wireless.

Competing advertisers who cannot land a spot on the Univision broadcasts are able to hitch a ride on the competition’s official Web site, Terra.com. Terra’s major sponsor, Ford Motor Co., is using the venue to pitch its F-150 pickup truck in spots by Zubi Advertising Services in Coral Gables, Fla. Coverage of the Copa on Terra’s 17 portals is the first time worldwide coverage of a tournament has been offered on the Web site, said Michele Azan, vp of sales at the company. Roughly 90 percent of the site’s sports-channel viewers are men, with 54 percent in the coveted 18-34 age group, she said.

To boost awareness of the site, Terra is running ads on Telemundo, not Univision, which offers Copa coverage on its own Web site. “Univision would not run our ads,” Azan said. “We have a long relationship with Telemundo.”