As Colombian star Shakira shimmied across a Soweto stage singing the World Cup anthem Waka Waka at Thursday's walk-up concert to the soccer extravaganza, Univision Communications began a World Cup marathon of its own.
The nation's largest Spanish-language media company plans nearly 900 hours of World Cup programming from South Africa with all 64 matches broadcast live and in high definition as well as live streaming of events on UnivisionFutbol.com , video on demand, a futbol phone app and mobile alerts on everything from points scored to game finals.
A lot is riding on the World Cup for Univision, which has the exclusive Spanish-language broadcast rights in the United States mainland and Puerto Rico for the event.
Not only are Hispanic viewers crazy for soccer, but the World Cup — or the Mundial as it's known in Spanish — is also regarded as the perfect vehicle to demonstrate the strength and growth of the U.S. Hispanic market.
"This World Cup is extraordinarily important to us," said Cesar Conde, Miami-based president of Univision Networks.
"We brought our blood, sweat and tears to this event and its preparation. This really runs through our veins."
During the 2006 World Cup, Univision attracted more than 50 million viewers. Conde expects even higher numbers this year with the new media twists it is offering.
Conde says the World Cup represents the biggest commitment of resources to a single event in Univision's history. Hundreds of producers, sportscasters, anchors, TV personalities and support staff were sent to South Africa for live coverage as well as to do cut-ins for just about every show on the Univision roster except novelas.
"We transform ourselves into World Cup Media Company for the next 30 days," Conde said Thursday.
The one-two punch of World Cup coverage, plus 2010 Census numbers to be released early next year that are expected to show the U.S. Hispanic population exceeds 50 million, "will be a unique wake-up call" to advertisers and the U.S. marketplace that "investing in the Hispanic market is investing in growth," said Conde.
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