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The World Cup is turning into the ultimate power play for Univision Television Network.

Univision, the exclusive Spanish-language TV network for the soccer tournament, saw its share of U.S. Hispanic household viewership jump to 72% for the four weeks ended June 26, while rival Telemundo sank to 28% according to Nielsen Media Research numbers supplied by Univision. Univision's share was 65% for the same period last year, compared with Telemundo's 35%.

Unvision guaranteed at least an average 9 rating coverage of its 52-game schedule (each rating point equals 65,200 homes), but games through July 5 averaged 12.6.

The tourney will cause ad revenue "to take a quantum leap for the year," said Mal Karwoski, Univision sports sales director. Univision expects $24 million in ad revenue from the World Cup, up from an estimated $11 million in 1990 during the last World Cup. Univision's top sponsors, paying a record $3 million each, are Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Coca-Cola Co., General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet division, American Honda Motor Co. and McDonald's Corp.

"Their programming share is trending up tremendously. That, combined with World Cup, is really increasing demand for network advertising time," said Monica Fragale Gadsby, associate media director at Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

The Univision network and the stations it owns reported first-quarter revenues of $50.9 million, a 20% increase from the same period in '93.

Rival Telemundo, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, continues to struggle. With the World Cup factored out, Telemundo dropped 6 share points to Univision from May '93 to May '94.

But Telemundo's financial prospects have improved. Revenue rose 14% to $38 million for the first three months of '94.

Telemundo also expects some World Cup benefits.

The soccer tournament has brought some new advertisers, like Reebok International, to the market, said Filiberto Fernandez, Telemundo's senior VP-marketing.

Also, Telemundo has picked up some ad dollars because Univision inventories have been sold out.

But increased awareness may be the biggest benefit. Univision soccer announcer Andres Cantor last week appeared on the "Late Show With David Letterman."

"Many [advertisers] tuned in to Univision for the first time and found that Spanish-language TV offers good quality," Mr. Fernandez said.

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