|Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 10:55 am|
ESPN has reached a multimedia rights extension with Azteca América to air Liga MX, Mexico’s premier national soccer league, and Copa MX, the nation’s football cup competition, in the United States through 2015. The agreement enhances ESPN’s multimedia coverage of Mexico’s top soccer properties by placing, for the first time, Mexican club matches on ESPN’s English-language networks (ESPN2 and ESPNEWS), adding more matches on ESPN Deportes in Spanish, as well as extensive highlights rights across ESPN’s English-language and Spanish-language studio programming and digital platforms.
The agreement provides U.S.-based fans of Mexican soccer more opportunities to experience one of the top national leagues and cup competitions in North America on ESPN’s English- and Spanish-language platforms. Through the remainder of the 2013 season ESPN2 and ESPNEWS will combine to air more than a dozen Liga MX matches featuring some of the league’s most popular clubs including Chivas del Guadalajara, Club América, Cruz Azul and Pumas.
ESPN’s English-language coverage will kick off the weekend of March 8-10, beginning Friday, March 8, with Morelia vs. América on ESPNEWS at 8:30 p.m. ET. The first weekend of Liga MX on ESPNEWS continues Saturday, March 9, with Cruz Azul vs. Jaguares at 6 p.m., and concludes Sunday, March 10, at 6 p.m. with Puebla vs. UNAM Pumas. ESPN2’s presentation will debut on Saturday, March 30, at 7:00 p.m. with Cruz Azul vs. Atlas.
The agreement also grants ESPN Deportes more Liga MX matches every season. With the expansion, the network will televise over 60 Liga MX games through the 2013 season. ESPN Deportes will continue to offer coverage of select Copa MX matches. Both properties will also be carried on ESPN Deportes+, the ESPN3 broadband extension available on ESPNdeportes.com.
ESPN3, the company’s live multi-screen sports network available to 83 million homes online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, will carry select Liga MX games in English and Spanish, as well as CopaMX games in Spanish.
“Liga MX has become one of the most competitive and popular soccer leagues in Latin America with a growing number of Mexican and American star players,” said Freddy Rolón, vice-president of ESPN Deportes programming and business initiatives. “Adding more club matches in both languages allows us a greater opportunity to reach the widest possible audience while strengthening our commitment to serve U.S. Hispanic fans across all of our platforms.”
ESPN Deportes studio programs SportsCenter, Fútbol Picante, Jorge Ramos y Su Banda and Raza Deportiva, among others, will continue to provide extensive complementary coverage around both properties. ESPN FC, the company’s global soccer brand, will expand its coverage of the league with the launch of a dedicated Mexico page covering the national team, Liga MX and Copa MX. Dedicated bloggers as well as contributors from the team on-site in Mexico will deliver complete coverage of the teams and leagues, including highlights and analysis, live match coverage, chats and more. Additionally, ESPN’s English-language networks will increase match highlights across studio programs.
The Liga MX is the most important soccer league in Mexico and includes 18 first division clubs. In 2011, the league changed its format to two tournaments per seasons: The Apertura (opening), which starts in the summer, and the Clausura (closing) played through the winter.
The Copa MX is Mexico’s top soccer cup competition and includes the top first and second division clubs. Formerly known as the Copa Tower and Copa Eliminatoria, the event went on hiatus from 1997 to 2012 when it was revived by the Liga MX. With a new format that mirrors the Liga MX, the tournament is played twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. The Copa features 14 first division clubs– that are not part of the CONCACAF Champions League– and 14 from the Ascenso MX, México’s second division.
The agreement grants ESPN rights to more Liga MX home games of clubs Cruz Azul, Jaguares, Monarcas, Morelia, and Puebla. The Copa MX coverage will continue on ESPN Deportes with matches featuring América, Chivas, Cruz Azul, Pumas, Monterrey, Toluca, Tigres, Morelia, Jaguares and Santos.