Hispanic Media Disconnect

Telemundo and Univision still get just a sliver of the ad market. What gives?

Spanish-language broadcasters raked in a record $2.15 billion in 2011-12 upfront commitments, but executives at Univision and Telemundo believe that many marketers are still guilty of undervaluing the Hispanic TV marketplace.

Despite earning bragging rights as the only broadcasters to post ratings gains this year, the two rivals are all but segregated from the English-language broadcasters. Not only are Univision and Telemundo’s respective upfront presentations pushed to the margins of the mid-May schedule, but both nets are obliged to wait for the Big Five to wrap up their business before they can begin engaging with buyers. (The Hispanic nets nailed down the last of their upfront deals in late July, a good seven weeks after ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and The CW finished writing deals.)

Univision hauled in $1.75 billion in early commitments for the upcoming TV season, and while that’s nothing to sneeze at—to put the number in perspective, it’s more or less the same amount NBC took in during its upfront sellathon—media spend on Hispanic TV remains disproportionately slight. “We need to get advertisers and brands awakened to the fact that Hispanics are a trillion-dollar economy in the United States,” says Randy Falco, president and CEO of Univision. “They represent 16 percent of the population. The budgets for advertisers should reflect the same thing. Fifteen [percent] to 20 percent of their budgets should be set aside to reach Hispanics every single year.”  

Marketers last year spent $4.83 billion on Spanish-language TV (broadcast, cable, and spot), up 9 percent from a year earlier, according to Kantar Media. Procter & Gamble, the biggest investor in Hispanic-targeted media, plunked down $197.7 million in 2010 to reach Spanish-speaking Americans, or just 4 percent of its total media budget ($4.61 billion).

Telemundo also enjoyed a robust upfront, taking in approximately $400 million in advance sales, an improvement of 20 percent versus the prior-year period. Of the $88 million in new business that found its way into the Hispanic TV market, Telemundo landed $48 million, or 55 percent.

Dan Lovinger, Telemundo’s evp of advertising sales and integrated marketing, said he’s encouraged by the agency world’s response to the 2010 Census data. (In the last decade, the Hispanic population skyrocketed 43 percent to 50.5 million.) “We’ve seen a significant shift in the agency community in the past six months to a year,” Lovinger says.  “Many agencies are starting to create a one-world planning system, where the Hispanic marketplace isn’t separated from the general marketplace.”

Still, Lovinger says there’s room for improvement. “Spanish-language TV gets about 4 percent of all U.S. TV spend,” he says. “If you look at the numbers, there’s definitely an injustice.”

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