Universo and Telemundo Kick Off Super Bowl LII Coverage

By View from the Grandstand Archives
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Picking up NBC’s feed of Super Bowl LII, NBCU’s Spanish-language cable network Universo is supplying its own on-air talent team for the telecast emanating from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday.  Rene Giraldo will call the game, alongside analyst Edgar Lopez, special guest Rolando Cantu and sideline reporter Veronica Contreras.  Meanwhile, broadcaster Telemundo will air a special titled Road to the Super Bowl special at 2:30.  Universo follows with a pre-game show, kicking off at 6 p.m., ahead of the telecast, followed by post-game coverage.

Telemundo Deportes President Ray Warren said the contest between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, which will also be streamed live through the Telemundo Deportes En Vivo app and TelemundoDeportes.com, will expand the cable network’s audience.  Perhaps more importantly, Super Bowl LII will serve as a platform to drive awareness for other Universo programming, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup from Russia.  Telemundo and Universo, which will air eight live matches from the tourney running from June 14-July 15, are teaming on some 500 hours of match and related programming.  There will also be 1,000 hours of digital content. 

Warren said agency Anomaly is preparing some promos that are being targeted for inclusion on Super Bowl Sunday.

NBC Sports has been selling the vast majority of its Super Bowl ads across the broadcast network, digital offerings and on Universo.  The packaging, the company said, is pushing average 30-second unit pricing north of $5 million.

Selling the game in conjunction with pre- and post-game programming and a special edition of hit drama This Is Us (in which we will finally learn how beloved Pearson family patriarch Jack perishes), NBCU expects to set a single-day ad sales record for a single media company on Super Bowl Sunday, exceeding the $500 million mark.

Still, Dan Lovinger, Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales at NBC Sports Group, said Universo has also been selling some spots on its own.  As such, there will be a dozen or so advertisers on Universo that won’t appear on NBC, because they don’t have creative or infrastructure-like call centers for Spanish-language inquiries.

As Ray Warren noted: “These marketers feel the value in speaking directly to this audience in Spanish.”  Warren said members of the sales teams headed by Lovinger and the group led by Laura Molen, Executive Vice President, Lifestyle and Hispanic Advertising Sales Group, literally work next to each other.  As such, they communicate constantly, apprising each other of client interest, progress and other developments.  He said Lovinger’s team done “a great job of keeping us in the game about where things stand with the Super Bowl.”

Telemundo Deportes won’t have a significant role in the other part of what NBCU is calling “The Best Feb. Ever” – first the Super Bowl, then the Winter Olympics from PyeongChang.  NBCU expects to generate over $900 million in national ad sales across NBC, NBCSN, USA and CNBC, plus digital platforms, for a Winter Games record.  The 2,400 hours of combined coverage begins on Feb. 8.

Following the presentation of more 200 hours from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on Telemundo and Universo that reached 16.6 million viewers and 8 million adults 18 to 49, Telemundo Deportes does not have any actual Games coverage from South Korea.  That’s because Latinos, by and large, do not participate in many of the competitions included in the Winter Games.  Instead, Telemundo will cover the Games with daily segments on sports show Titulares y Mas, its morning show Un Nuevo Dia and during news telecasts.  Additionally, the Telemundo Stations Group’s news bureau will also produce Olympics-themed content for the local stations.

“We’re sending a crew there and will follow the biggest stories,” said Warren, noting Telemundo is handling ad sales here.  He explained that there is a dual goal from PyeongChang: To ensure that viewers “get the best information from a Spanish-language network from us, and that we direct them to NBCU’s coverage of the Games.”

Warren also said the company is deep into the selling process around the World Cup, with ad sales “pacing ahead of plans.”  He noted that Telemundo Deportes is in “spectacular shape” in terms of sponsorship positions and that its sales team will continue to work through the market to move the rest of the inventory.

There has been “a bit of a lull” with NBCU concentrating on selling the Super Bowl and the Olympics, he admitted, adding, “Things are going to pick up again after Feb. 25 [the closing ceremony from PyeongChang].”

Warren, perhaps playing his cards a bit close to the vest, said he’s not sure if Telemundo is getting a bump from the absence of the U.S. team, which many deem to be a significant detriment to Fox Sports’ English-language coverage of FIFA 2018.  “Buyers are cagey,” he said.  “They’re not saying where their budgets are coming from.”

But he did mention that common sense -- and math -- may be coming into play as there are ten Spanish language teams, including top sides like Argentina and Spain, among the 32 heading to Russia for the tournament that will play out from June to July.  “There are eight groups, and there is at least one Spanish-language team in each group,” he said.  “We have something for everyone.”

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