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ESPN and Univision offer World Cup viewers a choice

ESPN has the English-language US rights to the World Cup. Matches will either air on ESPN, ESPN2, or  channel 7.
ESPN has the English-language US rights to the World Cup. Matches will either air on ESPN, ESPN2, or channel 7.
Courtesy ESPN

You don’t normally get a lot of choices when watching sports. If you want to watch the NBA Finals, it’s ABC. Stanley Cup? NBC and NBCSN. However the World Cup offers something most sports championships don’t: a choice. You can pick between two broadcasters.

It doesn’t happen often in US sports broadcasting, but rights to the Super Bowl of soccer is split between two separate entities based on language. The Spanish-language TV rights are handled completely separately from the English-language rights. ESPN and its broadcast outlet, ABC, have the games in English. But if you don’t like ESPN’s coverage, or want something different, you can tune into the Spanish-language telecasts on Univision.

Here in the Bay Area, Univision is KDTV channel 14. It’s an over-the-air station available on cable and satellite but also by simply using an antenna. As long as you’re close enough to Mount Sutro, you can probably watch channel 14. And that means you can watch the World Cup the way most Bay Area viewers do, en Español.

By the way, it’s important to note that for both ESPN and Univision, this is their World Cup swan song. Beginning with next year’s Women’s World Cup and continuing to the 2018 men’s version, the English-language rights shift to Fox, while Spanish-language coverage moves to Telemundo.

It’s also important to note that if you tune into Univision’s coverage hoping to hear Andres Cantor’s famous call of “Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool!” you’ll be disappointed, at least until Telemundo takes over. That’s because Cantor works for Telemundo.

If you want to hear him now, try 93.3 on your FM dial. This station, known as “La Raza”, has rights to Cantor’s Futbol de Primera radio network which has US Spanish-language radio rights.

So that’s a third choice: Tune into channel 14 or ESPN/ABC, turn the volume down, and turn your radio up. And enjoy a rare example of Freedom of Choice in sports broadcasting.


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