While Fox Sports celebrated the huge ratings success of the 2016 World Series, its counterparts at Spanish-language Fox Deportes were doing the same. The timing of the historic meeting of the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians classic couldn’t have been better for the network that caters to a growing Hispanic population and is this month celebrating its 20th anniversary.
“We broke a record every night,” says Fox Deportes General Manager Carlos Sanchez of the Fall Classic. “Game 7 is the one that surpassed the Super Bowl.” The game drew 565,000 total viewers on Fox Deportes, making it the most-watched non-soccer sporting event in Hispanic cable history.
It comes at a time when the network is rebranding and highlighting some of its premier sports properties. In addition to the World Series, this month Fox Deportes will air the MLS Playoffs, NFL action on Thanksgiving, UFC and UEFA Champion’s League soccer. In February, it will air Super Bowl LI.
To recognize its 20th anniversary, the network spent close to a year coming up with new graphics and updating its look. Head of Creative Mark Simmons brought in David Pagani, former senior creative director at DirecTV, to be director of graphics and content and enlisted Emmy Award-winning composer Jeff Beal (House of Cards) to compose new theme music.
The graphics package features a new color palette and assigns a different color for each show and property.
“When I walked in here it was like, ‘Wow this place really needs some direction and some synergy among all the departments,’” says Simmons, who started at Fox Sports in 2004 and returned last year after working as creative director for Fox Sports Australia. Simmons saw the rebrand as an opportunity to give Fox Deportes more of a stand-alone presence instead of looking like one of Fox Sports’ younger brothers.
“We’re perceived as being Fox and there’s a lot of good stuff attached to that,” says Simmons, whose team did a lot of market research to find out what viewers perceptions and habits are. “We needed to stay close to them but we also needed to make our own identify.”
Simmons went about the rebrand using mostly (95 percent by his own account) internal production. He worked closely with designers Pagani and Lyle Such and consulted Fox Sports Executive Vice President of Marketing Robert Gottlieb on the campaign’s progress.
The rebrand brings new looks to many of Fox Deportes signature shows and up-and-comes, like NFLEROS, a Sunday night show hosted by Pablo Alsina and featuring commentators including former Green Bay Backer Brady Poppinga. The show launched this year and aims to attract NFL viewers to Spanish-language highlights and analysis. Its Fox Deportes En Vivo, on the air now for two years, airs worldwide highlights and goes one the road for NASCAR, baseball and even Bunesliga futbol in Germany.
Speaking of soccer, it’s long been the NFL of the Hispanic TV market, with UEFA Champion’s League the network’s biggest draw. Sanchez says the success of the World Series is heartening at a time when making in-roads into non-soccer properties is an important driver of growth.
“Our focus has been, ‘How do we get them to tune into other sports other than soccer,” he says. “The Super Bowl was a really good experiment for us when we had it three years ago…We realized if we bring it to them in their language and we make it relevant to them they will come, they will watch.”
Like consumers in the general marketplace, the Hispanic consumer is watching, and engaging in diverse ways. Last year, a report from Horowitz Research’s “Focus Latino” showed Hispanics use of streaming services like Hulu and Netflix had increased by close to double digits in just two years. The engagement on social media platforms is also significant. Fox Deportes boasts 12.3 million likes on Facebook, that’s close to four million more than Fox Sports.
“Our social media following and engagement is something that competes with even the bigger networks,” says Sanchez. “We have the largest social media following of any Spanish network and we’re second out of any sports network [behind ESPN] regardless of language.”
With a growing consumer base, coveted properties and now a new look, Sanchez believes Fox Deportes is well positioned to build on its first two decades as it moves into its next.