Second in size and scope only to the Olympics, the Pan American Games take place every four years in the year prior to the Summer Olympics. The 2011 games mark the third time that Mexico has hosted the event.

New opportunities

“It’s really an Olympics for the Americas. People from all over the region have a reason to tune in.”

“This is the first year the games are taking place in October which gives us a great theme with Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Lino Garcia, general manager of ESPN Deportes. “Four years ago we had more limited coverage and saw a pop in viewership in New York and L.A. This time around we expect even more viewers.” The idea for the Pan American games evolved after the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

World War II delayed the start until 1951 when 2,513 participants representing 14 nations gathered in Buenos Aires.

This year’s event in Guadalajara will see more than 6,000 competitors representing 42 countries from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

“It’s really an Olympics for the Americas,” said Garcia. “People from all over the region have a reason to tune in.”

Expanded TV coverage is part of this year’s games with ESPN Deportes carrying some 100 hours of live programming in Spanish and English delivered by anchors and reporters on the ground in Guadalajara.