Televisa, Azteca unleash multi-platform soccer content

Coming off Mexico’s worst year economically since the 1930s, there is much riding on Mexico’s national team in the soccer World Cup for fans and broadcasters alike.

The team will play the opening game against host South Africa on Friday, kicking off Televisa and its smaller rival TV Azteca’s multimillion dollar bets on a month-long flood of soccer programming designed to earn an ad revenue bonanza in this nation of rabid soccer fans.

Media finance analyst Andres Coeller reported last summer that he believed the extra revenue boost could total $55 million for the two webs, a figure he recently said may be significantly underestimated given high ratings for the 12 friendly matches headed into the event.

Both webs say they are trying to stick to the budgets paid out for the 2006 tournament, held in Germany; however, Televisa’s head of marketing for Televisa Sports Guillermo Roman says it will all come down to how far Mexico goes in the event.

“Mexico has gone to the second round in the past three World Cups…and as long as we get there, then everything is going to look good,” he said. “If we get past that, everything’s going to look great!”

TV giant Televisa is providing five to six hours a day of special programming beyond the 30 games it will run live over-the-air and in HD, head-to-head with Azteca.

Televisa will also run 10 games exclusively on its pay TV channel Televisa Deportes and offer the remaining 24 games via its satcaster Sky.

And Television is pouring millions of dollars into broadcasting 30 games live over the Internet across much of Latin America.

In addition to exhaustive analysis, Televisa will bring the yuks with a wide range of special reports and cartoona — including a daily three-minute capsule put together by thesps Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal’s Canana Films.

No. 2 Azteca is playing it a bit more conservatively, bringing a team of nearly 150 commentators and techs, as opposed to Televisa’s 200, and relying on sports bombshells Ines Sainz and Ines Gomez Mont to bring in a lighter side to the competition.

In addition, 18 yet-to-be-announced World Cup matches will unspool in 3D at Cinepolis theaters along with seven in HD on 44 screens in 20 cities.

The heat is on, but Televisa’s Roman is riding it out.

“We’re doing fine. We usually sell about 40% of (the total ads) during the World Cup,” he said. “We need to be patient. We’ve been covering the numbers we’ve been expecting … But it’s not as easy as it used to be.”

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