Univision Gives Simon Cowell Show La Banda the Go-Ahead

Network upfront features dancing Steve Mandela, Carlos Santana

Univision has green-lit a new series from American Idol/X Factor/America's Got Talent producer Simon Cowell entitled La Banda, out to find "the best band in the world," as Cowell told the crowd. Coincidentally, a man who would surely be a principal player in the best band in the world, Carlos Santana, closed the presentation with a two-song set.

The pitch to advertisers included several new components, including Fusion, the news network that Univision and ABC are creating together. There's also U.S. soccer, which Univision is marketing to the hilt in an attempt to create a sports franchise that will help make up for its lack of World Cup rights in the coming years, and there's Flama, the over-the-top network aimed specifically at millennials announced last month. And, presumably since millennials like superheroes, Univision also featured its execs in outfits from The Avengers.

There's a robust slate of new novelas, of course—Univision has a major partnership with Mexican shingle Grupo Televisa, easily the largest producer of Spanish-language TV content in the world. And the network also showed off upcoming series on its sister network El Rey (run by movie director Robert Rodriguez), which has hour-long dramas including Matador and, of course, the TV series version of Rodriguez's cult vampire film, From Dusk 'Til Dawn.

The presentation had plenty of colorful moments, not least of which was the emergence of ad sales head Steve Mandela dancing and rapping with an entourage of scantily-clad dancers. 

The pitch was simple, as evidenced by the "Talk Spanish to Me" t-shirts: the network's demo is young, watches live, and hates DVR. Then there was dancing.