Hispanic Expansion

The two leading Hispanic-language television networks, Univision and Telemundo, will continue next season to make inroads into the English- language broadcast viewership by premiering programming in the late-night daypart for the first time. And Univision hopes to draw more viewers away by expanding their out-of-prime news and variety programming, while Telemundo will offer a new non-novela drama series, along with some new reality shows.

At stake is a Hispanic marketplace with 40 million people who have a combined $715 billion in annual buying power. Univision currently reaches about 30 percent of Hispanic adult 18-49 viewers in prime time (7-11 p.m. in Hispanic television), while Telemundo reaches 8 percent, Tele- Futura just under 6 percent, Galavision 1.2 percent, with mun2 less than 1 percent.

During the current season, Univision drew more total adults 18-34 individually in prime time than ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox on 19 nights and on another 134 nights finished among the top four. On one night, the Univision novela, Rubí, drew 3.1 million adults 18-34, nearly a million more than Fox’s 24 and CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond.

“These numbers illustrate that the traditional Big Four is no longer the only place to reach the nation’s largest TV audience and that young Hispanic Americans are increasingly turning to Spanish-language television,” says Alina Falcon, executive vp and operating manager for Univision Television Network.

Overall, Univision networks will continue its cross-programming strategy in prime-time novelas from 7-10 p.m. on Univision, with a mix of talk, variety and news on different nights from 10-11; news, games shows and movies on its sister broadcast network, TeleFutura; and news, family comedy and mixed programming on its cable net, Galavision, in prime.

Telemundo will continue to offer a new set of novelas, all originally produced in the U.S. by the network’s own production company, from 7-11 p.m. Meanwhile, Telemundo’s sister cable network, mun2, will continue to focus on and expand programming geared to an even younger teen and early 20s audience, such as music and variety shows, game shows and extreme sports.

The expansion into late night has the potential to draw away some of the Hispanic audience now watching the late-night shows on the Big Three English-language broadcast networks. Univision’s Ay Que Noche!, which will include live musical and stage performances as well as celebrity guest interviews, will air from midnight to 1 a.m. weeknights. Telemundo was less clear about the details of its own late-night show, but Ramon Escobar, the network’s executive vp of programming, said details would be announced shortly.

Univision and Telemundo’s entry into late night is a result of research that shows that over the past 10 years, adult audiences aged 18-49 watching prime-time television on Spanish-language stations grew 122 percent, and during that time, audiences aged 18-34 watching prime-time TV on Spanish-language networks grew 126 percent. So with prime-time audiences growing at such a steady pace, it is a natural progression to start programming late night, a yet untapped market for the Spanish-language nets.

Univision also expanded its Saturday-morning kids block this season to five hours from four. That has resulted in 16 percent more kids viewers, further proof that more Spanish-language programming of the traditionally dominant English-speaking genres can boost audiences and ad opportunities for the Hispanic networks.

Both Univision and its sister networks are also bulking up their news programming both in prime time and in other dayparts. Univision is adding a new Sunday-morning newsmaker show, Punto de Encuentro con Jorge Ramos, that will air 10-11 a.m. TeleFutura is adding a new Monday through Friday prime-time news events program, En Vivo Y Directo, to air from 7-8 p.m. Galavision will add a new prime-time news show, En Profundidad, that will air from 9-10 p.m. weeknights and provide an in-depth look at the most pressing social issues facing Hispanics.

Univision president/COO Ray Rodriguez says that while the broadcast networks are cutting back on their news programming, “our audience is hungry for information.”

Both networks will be carrying major sporting events next year that should also draw more ad dollars into their respective coffers. Univision will air the World Cup, and Telemundo will carry the Winter Olympics.

While Rodriguez has said that Univision has done no World Cup selling yet, sources familiar with the networks’ sales say a huge chunk of that ad inventory—maybe as much as 50 percent—has already been committed to by advertisers. Among the advertisers who have already bought World Cup packages are Miller, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, General Motors and Johnson & Johnson. Telemundo will be selling its Olympic inven- tory separately, and its parent NBC, which has the U.S. rights to air the Games, will also be selling Olympic inventory for Telemundo as part of its packages.

Univision continues to take in the lion’s share of Hispanic ad dollars: $800 million in the last upfront, compared to $300 million for Telemundo. However, the latter network continues to get positive feedback from media buyers as a solid alternative that keeps Univision from monopolizing the market, as well as ad prices. Telemundo senior vp, sales and marketing, Steve Mandela, believes that his network has a chance to make some inroads in the imported auto category, as well as in movies, wireless, pharmaceutical and financial advertising. Mandela says he and his ad staff made 120 sales pitches to prospective clients over a 40-day period leading up to the network’s upfront presentation two weeks ago, and he is hoping to expand on the 132 advertisers that bought Telemundo in the upfront last year.

Univision says it believes getting the Latin Grammy Awards away from CBS will also bring in significant ad revenue for the network. Rodriguez says the CBS telecast had turned into “quite a disaster” as far as low ratings go, but promises the show will be rejuvenated on Univision. “CBS wanted to get the Latin Grammys out of the sweeps period, but we negotiated to get it in,” says Rodriguez, adding that this year’s awards will air on Univision in November.

Antoinette Zel, executive vp of cable networks and network strategic planning for Telemundo Networks Group, says mun2, the four-year-old cable network, will be adding more programming “that reflects the lifestyle of young Latino adults. We want to be more inclusive, whether it is with the music we offer, or the sports, specials or movies. It’s time for us to pony up.”

Zel, who spent 13 years at MTV before joining Telemundo last fall, says the new programming will be in English but will speak to the young, Hispanic culture.

The mun2 demo, she says, is bilingual viewers 12-34. And just like Telemundo, most of the new programming will be produced inside the U.S. rather than being imported from Latin American countries. “Our biggest target audience blocks are from 3-7 p.m. and 9-11 p.m.,” Zel says. In the works is VivoLive, a weekly variety show shot at Universal City Walk in Los Angeles. The network this fall will also begin airing WWE Raw, to which it recently obtained the rights.

With all the new programming moves, prime-time novelas are still the bread and butter of both Univision and Telemundo, and the debate between the two networks continues over whether the best route is to produce original novelas in the U.S. (as Telemundo does) vs. importing novelas from Latin American producer Televisa (as Univision does).

While one of the new Televisa novelas on Univision, El Amor No Tiene Precio, was produced entirely in the U.S., the other five it has scheduled for the upcoming season were filmed in Mexico and Spain. Meanwhile, all of the Telemundo’s new novelas, including its new 10 p.m. La Tormenta, were originally produced in the U.S.

While Telemundo executives have said the U.S. production gives the novelas a better sensibility for the U.S. Hispanic audiences, Univision executives disagree.

“We do not believe that where you produce a show has anything to do with its quality or the ratings it will get,” says Univision’s Rodriguez. “We put on the best shows. We have tried to do our own novelas, but we like theirs [Televisa’s] better. They are experts at doing it. We would rather use our own resources on other types of programming.”

John Consoli is a senior editor at Mediaweek who covers network television and Hispanic media.