CBS is not the only TV network showing Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.
ESPN Deportes, part of Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN unit, will provide U.S. viewers with a Spanish-language telecast of the game. Although it will utilize the same video feed from the CBS Sports production, ESPN Deportes will have its "Monday Night Football" commentator team of Alvaro Martin, Raul Allegre and sideline reporter John Sutcliffe calling the game, and provide it's own on-screen graphics.
The network — which annually shows 2,500 hours a year of live sports programming and a Spanish-language version of ESPN's signature program, SportsCenter — will also sell its own commercials for the game. Ford, BMW, Samsung, McDonald's and Coors are among the 29 brands to sign on. ESPN said advertising time on the game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers has sold well even though the telecast was just announced in late December.
Although ESPN carries the NFL's "Monday Night Football," it has never had the U.S. rights to the Super Bowl. It's getting the chance this year because CBS does not have a Spanish-language network and brokered a deal to give ESPN the Spanish-language telecast rights. (Fox Deportes carried Super Bowl XVII in 2014, while NBC put it on its NBC Universo channel last year.)
ESPN is making the most of the opportunity by promoting the game across all of its English-speaking channels with the hope of topping the 1.9 million viewers who watched the Spanish language telecast last year. ESPN Deportes reaches 6.1 million cable and satellite connected homes classified as Hispanic by Nielsen.
Freddy Rolon, vice president of programming & business initiatives at ESPN Deportes, believes that a dedicated Spanish-language version of the game's telecast — supported by coverage on the channel throughout the week — will attract Latino fans who want to be immersed in the game, an experience they don't get with the call heard on the second audio program [SAP] that accompanies NFL telecasts.
"I can tell you I have family members who watch Spanish language television and they don't know where that SAP button is to begin with," he said. "It's not a good solution."
Rolon said a dedicated Spanish-language broadcast will expand the Super Bowl audience instead of cannibalizing the audience of the CBS telecast, which is expected to top 110 million viewers based on the ratings of recent years.
Jose Villa, president of Los Angeles-based ad agency Sensis, said a Spanish-language Super Bowl production can serve as a gateway to American football for immigrants who may not be familiar with the game but want to be a part of the festive atmosphere on Sunday.
"It's a smart move," Villa said. "The Super Bowl is almost like a holiday in this country and being able to participate in it is a perfect alignment in a lot of Hispanic values. Our research shows that many households in the Hispanic market have larger families that tend to watch TV together. It's a perfect fit."
But Villa said it's challenging for any Spanish-language broadcaster to completely replicate the Super Bowl experience without the big-budget commercials that are a part of the spectacle.
"In the Hispanic market you don't have that same level of investment even for the largest brands," said Villa, adding that advertisers who target Latino consumers tend to use the World Cup soccer tournament to unveil their flashiest ads.