ESPN and Univision on World Cup: Enjoy the Games…On Our Terms

By Adam Flomenbaum 

FIFA-Mens-World-Cup-2014-Official-Logo-an-Schedule-in-Canada-TimingsUnivision and ESPN continue to set World Cup records – both on linear and streaming – and are surely benefiting from increased interest in the games and from the tremendous social media activity.

As rights holders, though, Univision and ESPN want to make sure that if people are watching or talking about the games, that they’re doing it on the networks’ terms.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal last week:


In recent years media companies and publishers have sparred over whether these clips fall under editorial “fair use.” This World Cup the message from ESPN and Univision is clear: It doesn’t.

Since the start of the tournament Vox Media-owned sports site SB Nation, one of the chief purveyors of quick World Cup content, has had two accounts suspended on Vine, according to its managing editor Brian Floyd.

SB Nation received suspension notices from Twitter, Mr. Floyd said, after a complaint from media-protection company Irdeto, which works on behalf of Univision.

“They don’t seem to mind people Vine-ing funny stuff like fans,” explained Clay Wendler, who quickly crafts Vines for SB Nation. But when it comes to goals — breathtaking moments of glory seemingly tailor-made for the six-second looping video format — rights-holders are more stringent, Mr. Wendler said. Twitter did not respond to requests for comment on its policies regarding World Cup content.

Come tomorrow, Univision will also require viewers to authenticate before watching games. Until now, viewers have been able to enjoy the game without entering their cable provider information. ESPN has been requiring viewers to authenticate from the start.

A Univision spokeswoman Monica Talan told AdWeek:

The objective was to encourage sampling of the Univision Deportes app, build an audience, then educate that audience on the benefits of TV Everywhere via a robust marketing/education campaign. Starting on July 4th, users will need to sign in with their pay TV credentials. Users will be taken through a step-by-step process on how to do this.

Even more than the Olympics, it will be interesting to see how World Cup fans tuning in in record numbers continue to interact with Watch ESPN and the Univision Deportes app after the games are over. As networks are learning, rights to sporting events are even more valuable now than in years past. Cross-platform TV Everywhere advertising is becoming increasingly refined, targeted, and accurate, and is enabling networks and brands to “give away” content more than ever.