April 18, 2014

Sports Business

Net Income - All-soccer TV Station Scores Big

GolTV in Miami broadcasts international soccer matches to fans in the U.S. and Canada.

Enzo Francescoli
Enzo Francescoli’s GolTV has viewers in North and South America.
Former Uruguayan soccer star Enzo Francescoli started GolTV in Miami seven years ago hoping to score big with soccer fans in the U.S. and Canada. Today, the all-soccer station — distributed through cable and satellite companies —?employs 300 and has garnered a small but loyal following.

In addition to live and recorded soccer matches, programming includes the United States’ only weeknight soccer news show and a soccer-oriented reality TV series that will crown a new player for the Athletico Madrid professional team in Spain.

The network has audio feeds in both English and Spanish. In the U.S., 40% of its audience watches for more than 10 hours a week, according to Simmons Market Research. Viewers can tune in for exclusive broadcasts of games in Spain’s elite La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga, as well as from leagues in Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay, plus tournaments from around the world.

In August, GolTV will start broadcasting in high definition, becoming the first HD network offered simultaneously in English and Spanish and the first Spanish-language cable network in HD.

GolTV’s reach extends throughout North America and southward through networks in Mexico, Chile, Peru and Argentina (each with its own programming, produced in Miami). Despite its broad geographic reach, however, it’s still a niche network. In the U.S., its highest-rated match this year scored 184,000 viewers among adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen. But fans watch attentively, says GolTV COO Rodrigo Lombello.

“We don’t reach a broad audience ... but the level of engagement is very high, and that’s important to the advertisers,” he says.

The company says revenue was up 23% in 2009 and is expected to rise 32% this year. “This year our advertising sales and revenue have been growing very aggressively, much more than we were expecting,” Lombello says. That is partly due to an 11% year-on-year increase in distribution in the first quarter, which brought GolTV’s subscriber base to around 13 million in the U.S.

GolTV’s major challenge is distribution. So far, only DirectTV has announced that it will carry the HD feed this August, although Lombello says more deals will be announced soon.

Tags: Miami-Dade

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