ESPN Deportes may have had just six weeks in which to line up advertisers for its Spanish-language simulcast of Super Bowl 50, but with the Panthers and Broncos set to kick off in Santa Clara on Sunday, buyers say el Gran Juego is sold out.
Marketers began blowing up Wendell Scott's cell phone practically from the moment Deportes sideline reporter John Sutcliffe and ESPN's Lisa Salters announced the sublicensing deal on Dec. 28, during a "Monday Night Football" halftime segment. Mr. Scott, who serves as ESPN's senior VP, multimedia sales, acknowledged that while his team had a limited amount of time to sell the Deportes simulcast, the marketplace was "very receptive" to the opportunity to reach millions of Spanish-speaking football fans.
Mr. Scott said 30 different advertisers had signed on for national ad buys in the Feb. 7 Deportes telecast, which is about one-half the number of sponsors who typically buy time in the Super Bowl, and equal to the roster of brands that appeared in last year's NBC Universo simulcast.
Unlike Universo, which aired a disproportionate number of English-language spots -- per iSpot.tv analysis, 13 of the 39 ads that aired during the network's simulcast of Super Bowl XLIX were in English, and 11 of these were repurposed from NBC's flagship broadcast -- Deportes is flooding the zone with more demographically apposite spots. Nearly all of the Deportes ads will be in Spanish; in fact, only one client, a CPG brand, has submitted creative in English.
As one would expect from a Super Bowl lineup, the leading categories that will be represented during Sunday's game are beer, auto, wireless and movie studios. Confirmed advertisers include Anheuser-Busch, Coors Light, BMW, Ford, Samsung, Sprint, MetroPCS and McDonald's.
(Click here for the most comprehensive list of clients who've ponied up for airtime in CBS's broadcast of Super Bowl 50.)
"Some of our advertisers are looking to extend the reach they'll have on CBS, while others are looking for the unique audience Deportes provides," Mr. Scott said.
While Mr. Scott would not confirm that the Deportes simulcast is sold out, TV buyers said that clients still looking to get a last-second seat at the table would likely have to stitch together local buys in the major markets.
This marks the third time the Super Bowl will be offered in a special Spanish-language format, and the first instance in which the main rights holder has sublicensed the feed to a third party. (CBS does not own a Hispanic-targeted cable channel.)
Fox got the simulcast ball rolling in February 2014, when its parallel presentation of Super Bowl XLVIII averaged 561,000 on the Fox Deportes channel. NBC Universo's coverage of last year's Pats-Seahawks nail-biter averaged 368,000 viewers, which works out to 0.3% of the record 114.4 million fans who were locked in for the primary broadcast on NBC.
While the simulcasts have not generated huge Nielsen ratings, they do present a unique opportunity for the networks to reach a burgeoning fan base. While most Hispanics prefer the kind of football that is spelled with a "u" and a diacritical mark, the NFL is steadily gaining favor among the fastest-growing segment of the population. According to Nielsen, Hispanics in 2014 accounted for nearly 10% of the national NFL TV audience; that same year, the league spent nearly $245 million on Spanish-language media.
ESPN Deportes reaches 6.1 million Hispanic households, or nearly half of all U.S. Hispanic TV homes. Per the network's deal with CBS, it will air nine hours of live coverage throughout the day, including a 90-minute pregame show and a postgame wrap up. ESPN is also selling in-game ads on its WatchESPN app and ESPN Deportes Radio broadcast.
Deportes on-air talent will promote the simulcast throughout the week on ESPN's "SportsCenter" and "Mike and Mike." During Sunday's Pro Bowl, ESPN rolled out a Spanish-language spot hyping the matchup between el fenomenó Cam Newton and el mítico Peyton Manning. It has since run in heavy rotation on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN.com.
"As always, our goal is to offer the best representation of our event across all our screens," Mr. Scott said. "Delivering the best content to our audience has always been our goal."
As it so happens, Super Bowl 50 marks only the third time a head coach of Hispanic heritage will be contending for the Lombardi Trophy. Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders coach Tom Flores steered his teams to victory in Super Bowl XV and XVIII, and now Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera has a shot at joining what remains a very exclusive club.
ESPN Deportes' Super Bowl coverage kicks off Sunday, Feb. 7, at 9 a.m. EST. Live coverage of the Panthers-Broncos showdown begins at 6 p.m.