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FOX Deportes eyes record Hispanic audience with Super Bowl LI telecast

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FOX Deportes eyes record Hispanic audience with Super Bowl LI telecast

With a number of assets in its playbook, 21st Century Fox Inc.'s FOX Deportes (US) has set a big goal with Super Bowl LI.

In its second round of televising the NFL championship game, FOX Deportes is eyeing the highest viewership level for non-soccer programming in Spanish-language TV history in the U.S.

"Our goals are to surpass the audience for Game 7 of the [2016] World Series and Super Bowl XLVIII," said FOX Deportes Executive Vice President and General Manager Carlos Sanchez in an interview.

The Chicago Cubs' historic World Series win over the Cleveland Indians drew an average audience of 565,000, making it the most-watched, non-soccer telecast in Spanish-language sports network history in the U.S., while FOX Deportes' coverage of Seattle's demolition of Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII drew a 561,000 average. That audience represents the largest Super Bowl audience delivery for a Spanish-language network in this country, topping the 471,000 for ESPN Deportes (US) with Super Bowl 50 and the 368,000 for NBC UNIVERSO (US) with Super Bowl XLIX.

Sanchez believes FOX Deportes has momentum heading into its simulcast of the Feb. 5 title tilt between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. This season, the network, which first aired NFL games during the 2013-14 campaign, has televised eight NFL matchups to date. FOX Deportes officials said the presentations reached over 1.5 million viewers, up 48% from last season.

FOX Deportes also made a weekly commitment to pro football on Sunday nights with "NFLeros," featuring league highlights and headlines, game reviews and social media components.

"The NFL is still considered as being in the early days among many Hispanics, but we're informing viewers and helping to build interest," Sanchez said.

He believes FOX Deportes will enjoy a home-field advantage of sorts when it comes to tune-in on Feb. 5, since the game will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston, which is a top 5 Hispanic market.

Sanchez also said FOX Deportes' presentation of Super Bowl LI will mark the first time the NFL championship game is exclusive on a Spanish-language network in the U.S. The Super Bowl previously has been available in Spanish for those who turned on the SAP button on the broadcast network televising the game. This time, though, the SAP feature will not be in play on the FOX telecast, meaning those seeking a Spanish-language version will have to tune in to FOX Deportes.

During the week leading up to the championship game, FOX Deportes has been originating daily versions of "NFLeros," sports news show "Central FOX," and "FOX Sports en ViVo," the sports/entertainment magazine program, from Houston. It also will become the first Spanish-language network to televise "NFL Honors," the league's awards show on Feb. 4.

Game-day coverage kicks off at 1:30 p.m. ET, leading into the championship game at 6:30 p.m. John Laguna, Jessi Losada and Brady Poppinga, a bilingual linebacker on the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers, will provide the call, with reporting from Valeria Marin and Pablo Alsina.

On the ad sales side, FOX Sports, as part of an organizational restructuring, took the lead role in selling Super Bowl inventory across the broadcast network telecast, the stream-cast of the NFL championship game on FOX Sports GO, and FOX Deportes. The result: about 85% of the commercials will appear in all three properties.

However, FOX Deportes' dedicated sales team stepped in to provide an assist. Eddie Espinal, manager of sales at FOX Deportes said there was "great demand" for a handful of units that remained available. At press time, network was nearing a sellout for the big game. As is the case with FOX Sports, Super Bowl LI will mark the highest-grossing revenue day in the history of FOX Deportes, according to Espinal.

Given the cross-selling strategy, about 60% of the ads inserted into FOX Deportes' coverage are slated to run in English. Espinal said the spots should resonate with the network's audience, which is "very bilingual and acculturated."

Espinal said that some advertisers didn't want to dub the commercials into Spanish because the translation could have an impact on the message.