by John Hecht
Latin-American rivals Brazil and Mexico square off on Tuesday.
MEXICO CITY – The first round of World Cup play is pulling in record ratings, so imagine what viewership numbers will look like when Latin-American rivals Brazil and Mexico square off Tuesday.
Some 5 million viewers tuned in to Spanish-language network Univision for Mexico’s opening match against Cameroon. The majority of U.S. Hispanic viewers are of Mexican descent, which means Mexico’s games tend to draw a much larger audience than say, Costa Rica’s or Argentina’s.
Here in Mexico, the television duopoly of Televisa and TV Azteca does not disclose ratings information, but one doesn’t need numbers to see that nearly everyone is glued to the set when the national team plays. Mexican networks are cashing in big time, as they always do on major soccer events. According to estimates, Televisa raked in north of $100 million in soccer-related revenue during the previous World Cup.
In Brazil, over-the-air network Globo reported that fully 60 percent of all connected devices, including televisions, mobile phones, tablets and computers, were tuned to the opening night match of Brazil vs. Croatia. Futbol fanaticism in Latin America is so strong that many companies will allow their employees to watch the Mexico-Brazil match during office hours; call it a preemptive action to avert absenteeism.
Fans began gearing up for one of the hottest rivalries in Latin America as early as Sunday night, when hundreds of Mexico supporters gathered outside a hotel in Fortaleza, Brazil, to serenade their team. Overlooking a boisterous crowd from the hotel terrace, Mexican players posted selfies on Twitter as mariachis belted out ballads below.
The host country goes into Tuesday’s match as the favorite, but given the long-running rivalry between the two teams, Mexico poses a legitimate threat to Brazil.
Regardless of the outcome, the networks will likely score a big win Tuesday.