Mun 2 gets soccer match between US and Mexico

MEXICO CITY — NBC Universal’s Spanish-language web Telemundo is set to spin a crucial Aug. 12 World Cup soccer qualifier match between the U.S. and Mexico into a ratings bonanza and a major visibility boost for its tiny bicultural subsidiary channel Mun2.

Telemundo, which has U.S. rights to Mexican national team qualifiers, will broadcast the game in Spanish on its own stations and in English exclusively on Mun2.

This is the first major sporting event for Mun2 — and it’s a doozy.

Should the U.S. win the match at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, a distinct possibility given the team’s recent form, it will be the first time it has ever done so on Azteca soil.

A win could make it difficult for Mexico to qualify for the tournament in South Africa next year, something fans both side of the border are well aware of.

Many major markets don’t carry Mun2 on standard packages, meaning millions of Stateside English-speaking soccer fans were set to miss this crunch match.

ESPN wanted to show the game in these areas but talks with Telemundo failed. Faced with angry fans, NBC U decided to allow its affiliated distribution partners to offer Mun2 free for the event.

A number of feevees, including Time Warner Cable in Imperial Valley, Calif., and satcasters Dish Network and DirecTV, have taken advantage of the offer and are screening Mun2 free that day — giving Telemundo the chance to make inroads into English-language TV.

Mun2 (a play on the Spanish word mundos, meaning worlds) is aimed at Latino youth with a significant portion of its programming in English. It was acquired by Telemundo in 2007.

It has languished in relative obscurity as far as mainstream U.S. auds are concerned, typically reaching about 31 million homes nationwide.

According to NBC U that number will jump to 56 million homes, thanks to the free Mun2 soccer offer.

Jorge Hidalgo, Telemundo executive and soccer production veteran says, “The expertise of our soccer production team will make this a must-see event in any language for soccer fans across the country.”

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