By Adam R Jacobson
If you’ve had sporadic communication with some of your South Florida-based peers and clients since June 12, you’re likely not alone.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup, unlike any previous global tournament of soccer supremacy, has captured the hearts-and full attention-of millions of Americans. From the opening match featuring hosts Brazil against Croatia, through the Final Four battles featuring Germany versus Brazil and Argentina against Holland, men and women across the U.S. have repeatedly ignored their e-mails and voicemails and fled the office for the nearest watering hole with a seat and full view of a television showing a World Cup match.
According to Univision, its presentation of the June 29 match featuring Holland versus Mexico delivered the most-viewed telecast in U.S. Spanish-language television history, averaging 10.4 million total viewers.
The match was also one of the most-watched through June 29 in the Miami DMA. But, it wasn’t the ratings topper. Sure, Hispanic market pros will quickly assert that Miami’s relatively light interest in El Tri, thanks to its predominantly Cuban population, is the reason. But that’s not exactly true.
The Holland-Mexico match delivered stellar numbers, fueled by a genuine interest in all-things World Cup that has grown organically from within a cadre of fútbol fanáticos that offer marketers a vivid snapshot of today’s South Florida Latino community-one in which Colombians and Argentines have driven fan fervor and soccer passion. At the same time, Hondurans, Costa Ricans, Ecuadorians and even Uruguayans have at times been more visible-and louder-than ever before.
That’s right: The town that has apparently scorned one of the Beautiful Game’s biggest names, David Beckham, and his attempts to build a soccer-only stadium in the Port of Miami has gone absolutely loco for this go-around of the World Cup.
While the region’s Cuban community has certainly enjoyed the fun, it is the Miami-Fort Lauderdale DMA’s other Hispanics who have fueled the revelry and ratings for the Brazil-based global futebol test. At the same time, a spirited American squad has greatly helped in bringing non-Hispanic whites to the party.
According to Nielsen data supplied by ABC affiliate WPLG-Channel 10 in Miami, Brazil’s matches have been a strong draw, with viewing among Persons aged 25-54 paced by Univision’s Spanish-language coverage, followed by ESPN’s English-language telecast and ESPN Deportes’ Portuguese-language play-by-play. The U.S.’s opener against Ghana was also a ratings bonanza for Univision and ESPN.
But Argentina’s opening match on June 15 versus Bosnia & Herzegovina outperformed both the opening matches for Brazil and the U.S. on Univision. Yes, a prime 6pm Sunday start time helped. But don’t tell that to the seemingly endless array of South Floridians who have been wearing Lionel Messi jerseys or the thousands of Argentine ex-pats who have clogged the streets of the North Beach section of Miami Beach following each Argentina victory.
Meanwhile, Spanish-language coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup airing on Fútbol de Primera Radio’s affiliates in South Florida – WURN-AM 1020 and WLVJ-AM 1040 – blared from boats on July 4 and July 5 as a slice of Miami’s water-loving Latinos followed Costa Rica’s heartbreaking loss in penalty kicks to Holland. For those without tablets and smartphones equipped with the Univision or Watch ESPN Apps, beach-goers up and down A1A tuned to FDP’s riveting moment-by-moment action on their radios.
But perhaps the most important game for Miami’s Hispanic community, and for marketers who seek to fully comprehend the shift in South Florida’s Hispanic consumer opportunity, wasn’t one in which Lionel Messi, Spanish stars, or even the U.S.’s heroic squad were featured. It wasn’t the June 20 match pitting Honduras against Ecuador, which saw nearly three times as many adults 25-54 tune to Univision’s WLTV-Channel 23 than to ESPN, nor was it the June 29 Costa Rica-Greece match, which generated staggeringly huge numbers for WLTV, making it the most-watched game through the Round of 16.
It was Colombia’s Fourth of July match against Brazil.
From the western suburbs of Broward County to the heart of El Gran Miami, the canary yellow, blue and red colors of the Colombian flag were nearly as omnipresent as the Stars and Stripes on the American day of independence. Two hours before game time at a Publix in the city of Hollywood, throngs of shoppers hurried to pack groceries into their cars so as not to miss the start of the Colombia-Brazil match. At least one dozen grocery shoppers were clad in Colombia national team jerseys.
Miami’s fashionable Brickell district was again jam-packed with thousands of Colombian revelers, displaying their pride for la madre patria while celebrating the Fourth as Hispanic Americans. Dominican rum brand Ron Barceló sponsored a Fourth of July viewing party at the Aloft hotel; the fireworks weren’t up in the sky but on television via satellite from Fortaleza. Attendees of a backyard barbeque in Miami Springs easily heard cheers from multiple neighbors’ homes when Colombia scored their lone goal before succumbing to defeat.
Yes, Univision Miami enjoyed some of its strongest ratings from matches featuring Sam’s Army. Russian immigrants in Sunny Isles Beach proudly cheered on their native land’s squad, while the Italian barber shop’s staff in Hallandale Beach and Spaniards on Miami’s Coral Way shared a tear as their respective teams crashed out in the first round.
But it’s Miami’s new Hispanic force, fueled by Colombians and Argentines and a growing Central American community, that have made the 2014 FIFA World Cup can’t-miss get-out-of-the-office entertainment.
Expect that call back or e-mail response on or about July 15.