Cable Operators

Univision Sees Broad Audience for ABC Venture

5/14/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Univision Networks president Cesar Conde
believes the new joint-venture 24/7 English-language TV news,
information and lifestyle network from the U.S. Spanish-language
media leader and ABC News will draw from both the
Hispanic community and from the general populace.

Aimed at English-dominant and bilingual Hispanics,
Conde said the yet-to-be named service, expected to launch
in 2013, plays to Univision’s overarching mission, as well as the
Latino community’s rise in influence in this country.

“There are two fundamental drivers for us,” Conde said in an
interview. “Our mission is to inform and empower the Hispanic
community in the United States in any way, any place and
on any platform possible. This joint venture gives us an additional
way to serve Latinos.”


GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES

The new service won’t just reach the fastest-growing demographic
segment in the U.S., but “the general population interested
in learning more about Latinos and issues important
to them from cultural, social, political and economic perspectives,”
he said. “This network will serve those interests and issues
in a way that is not currently being done in English.”

Hispanics currently represent 16% of the total U.S. population,
a ratio that is projected to almost double to 30% by
2050. Latinos currently wield spending power of $1 trillion,
en route to a projected $1.5 trillion in the next five years.
Those numbers clearly speak to prospective advertising opportunities.

Conde said Univision News had been in conversations with
ABC News for a little over a year before the May 7 announcement.
The negotiations between ABC News and Univision
were first reported by The Wall Street Journal in February.

He said there was no specific time frame, other than that the
network will bow in 2013. However, a website and mobile and
social-media content will be developed. “It’s a political year,
[and] we would like to have the digital operation up and running
by the November election,” Conde said.

While cable news networks like CNN are general news services,
ABC News president Ben Sherwood said the Univision
joint venture would be highly customized for the Hispanic audience.
Content would center on current events with a Latino
perspective, like the economy, jobs, health care, immigration,
education and politics, Sherwood said, but it will also focus on
lifestyle issues of importance to Hispanics, like entertainment,
health and wellness.

“Rather than going out and trying to compete with the
CNNs and MSNBCs and the [Fox News Channels] of the
world, we actually imagine that we’re going to enter this
space first and that others will come in and try to compete
with us in this particular segment that’s so rapidly growing,”
Sherwood said.

The joint venture — equity positions in which have not
been disclosed — will be set up as a separate company. But
in addition to hiring its own staff , it will draw personnel from
both ABC News and Univision. Conde said he expects management
announcements to be made within the next few
months. He said “the evaluation process” for the number of
employees, the network’s name and other considerations have
not been determined.

Those include whether affi liate-sales teams from Univision
or Disney-ABC Television Group — or both — will spearhead
the drive for distribution. Conde said initial conversations with
potential carriers have just taken place.

It is unclear whether the JV will launch a new channel or
convert an extant Disney or Univision property.

MundoFox, a general-entertainment network that is a joint
venture of Fox International Channels and Colombia’s RCN
Television Group, has reached distribution deals with TV stations
in the top 20 markets.

Comcast, as part of the merger conditions that allowed it to
assume control of NBCUniversal, has committed to launching
a pair of Latino-targeted services: BabyFirst Americas, which
bowed in April, and El Rey, an action-oriented general-entertainment
network that is slated to debut in January 2014.

DOZEN FOR CABLE

Conde noted that Univision has ramped up new ways to
reach its target audience, launching a trio of new cable networks
this year with Dish Network. The tlnovelas channel
bowed on the No. 2 satellite-TV provider on March 1; Univision
Deportes Network and Deportes Dos (exclusive to
the carrier in 2012) kicked off on April 7; and May 3 marked
the the premiere of FOROtv, a news network from Mexican
broadcaster Televisa.

The company also is flanking its flagship Univision network,
sister broadcaster TeleFutura and cable cousin Galavisión with
a six-channel suite — De Película, De Película Clásico, Bandamax,
Ritmoson, Telehit and Clásico TV — that it acquired
from programming partner Televisa, as well as the three new
cable services — “passion points” for Latinos, Conde called
them — it has launched with Dish. “To go from three networks
to a dozen demonstrates our interest in serving the varied
interests of Latinos,” Conde said.

At press time, Univision had inked an affiliate deal with
AT&T’s U-verse TV that includes tlnovelas, Univision Deportes
and FOROtv.


Andrea Morabito is programming editor of Broadcasting
& Cable.
March