Kicking It with Telemundo Deportes President Ray Warren

By View from the Grandstand Archives
Cover image for  article: Kicking It with Telemundo Deportes President Ray Warren

As part of some 200 hours of programing, Telemundo Deportes will kick off coverage of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 next month, the quadrennial competition that serves as a lead-up to soccer's main event, the 2018 World Cup from Russia. NBCUniversal's Spanish-language linear networks will present pre- and post-match fare and live coverage of the eight team, 16-match tournament, starting with the host nation squaring off against New Zealand on June 17 before concluding with the championship match July 2. With coverage originating from Moscow, Kazan, Saint Petersburg and Sochi, Telemundo Deportes' play -- 14 matches on broadcaster Telemundo, two on cable service Universo -- will mark the first time that all Confederations Cup matches will be produced live from venue cities.

Telemundo's Titulares y Más, the highest-rated weekday sports show in Spanish-language television among total viewers, will feature on-site segments, bringing the latest news and recaps of all the daily action, as well as additional coverage from Telemundo's studios in Miami.  In addition, a variety of Telemundo and Universo programs will broadcast live from Russia throughout the tournament, including Un Nuevo Día, Al Rojo Vivoand Noticias Telemundo. The Telemundo Station Group will also feature extensive coverage in their local newscasts and programming.

Telemundo Deportes President Ray Warren said crews will begin arriving in Russia during the first week of June in preparation for the Confederations Cup. The group has hired researchers to go behind the scenes with players and teams, as producers are generating short-and long-form content that will also be available on and the Telemundo Deportes app. Digital endeavors will be supplemented by social media content on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms.

Confederations Cup fare will also be accessible via live streams on desktops and tablets and, for the first time, on connected TV platforms including Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.

"We're providing deep coverage," said Warren, who joined Telemundo last September from NBC Sports Regional Networks, where he served as Chief Revenue Officer.  His 30-year career has also included stints as President of Carat Media Group Americas, Managing Director of OMD USA and President and CEO of Raycom Sports.

The expansive efforts play into Telemundo Deportes' mantra.  "We don't want to be World Cup ready, we want to be World Cup great. We can't wait to get it right until the 2022 World Cup," said Warren, acknowledging some view the upcoming tourney as a dress rehearsal.  "We see the Confederations Cup as off-Broadway, before we hit Broadway in 2018."

Promotion for the Confederations Cup, which also features Mexico, Chile, Portugal, Germany, Cameroon and Australia, will begin in earnest pre-Memorial Day, with creative from new agency Anomaly also slated to run during Telemundo Deportes' coverage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on June 13.

Warren said ad sales are strong for the Confederations Cup. "We've done a lot of business. We're ahead of budget from the network side, the stations and with digital," he said, declining to identify any sponsors at this juncture.

Telemundo's portfolio also includes coverage of events to which NBC Sports holds the rights, notably Premier League soccer, NASCAR, horse racing's Triple Crown and golf's Open championship.

After presenting more than 200 hours from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Telemundo will have a more limited, largely promotional presence in the 2018 Olympics from PyeongChang, South Korea, because Latinos for the most part do not participate in the Winter Games.

Warren said Boxeo Telemundo, the network's Friday-night, sweet science franchise rates well. "We like boxing and are looking for more opportunities," said Warren, who also wants Telemundo Deportes to step into the ring with mixed martial arts.

While much of his focus is on futbol, Warren said Telemundo Deportes is in discussions with the NFL about airing a handful of regular season games, playoff action and Super Bowl LII.  NBC Universo rebranded from mun 2 on February 1, 2015, which was highlighted by the telecast of Super Bowl XLIX.

Warren said the goal is to have an NFL deal in place by the Upfront.

FIFA's famed tourney will play a key role in Telemundo's pitch to advertisers, which is themed "Shift Happens."  Warren summarized matters thusly: "The prime-time audience is shifting to Telemundo from Univision. The World Cup is shifting to Telemundo from Univision. Our goal is to make shift happen."

Warren notes that Universo will televise eight of the 64 World Cup matches. It will also feature pre- and post-match fare and daily wrap-up programming.  "I'm not saying it's going to 24/7 World Cup, but Universo will play a key role in our overall coverage," he said.

Given the time difference from Russia to the East Coast, Warren said much of Telemundo's World Cup coverage will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. "We're going to promote the No.1 Spanish-language lineup in prime time, and then during prime-time programming there will be promotion back to the next day's World Cup schedule," Warren noted.

Warren said Telemundo Deportes is "engaged with FIFA sponsors and everybody else that has interest" in the World Cup, he said, noting that marketers budget for the World Cup every four years. In the general market, advertisers can garner ratings points with other sports, entertainment shows or by tapping different dayparts. "You can't do that with the World Cup. The World Cup is the biggest event in Spanish-language TV."

Working on it, he added is "pretty sweet."

Photo credit: FIFA

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