January 22, 2013 / 6:10 AM / 5 years ago

REFILE-Mexico's Televisa to beef up sports coverage, Univision

MEXICO CITY, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The CEO of Mexico’s leading broadcaster, Televisa, said the company would increase its sports coverage in 2013, focusing on soccer, and launch an English-language channel developed by Univision and ABC News.

Chief Executive Emilio Azcarraga did not say when the new channel will be launched. The venture will bank on the rising number of Hispanic viewers in the United States.

Televisa provides most of Univision’s primetime programming.

Additionally, the Mexican broadcaster will move heavily into social media and audience participation to improve its sports coverage, again concentrating on soccer, an area it and No.2 broadcaster, TV Azteca, have ruled for years, but now face rising competition from the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim.

“We are launching a new soccer social media platform...where everybody can add content,” Azcarraga said without elaborating during a televised interview on Televisa.

Both Televisa and TV Azteca are owners of big money-making professional soccer franchises and have been accused by smaller teams of overcharging for transmission rights and advertising.

Slim has made three soccer investments in recent months: he bailed out troubled Spanish team, Real Oviedo, and purchased stakes in Mexican clubs Leon and Pachuca. In the case of Leon, he also bought transmission rights for the team.

Additionally, Azcarraga said that Televisa is planning an event to display its state-of-the-art technology advances. Rivals Telefonica and Slim’s Telmex, owned by America Movil, host similar annual events in Mexico City.

Last year, Televisa purchased half of cellphone provider Iusacell for $1.6 billion, owned by TV Azteca CEO Ricardo Salinas, as it tapped a market dominated by Slim’s America Movil.

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