Content

Cable Hispanic Upfront Looks 'Gigante’

5/19/2006 8:02 PM Eastern

New York— The adoption of the Nielsen Television Index by the two big broadcasters and the continued proliferation of cable services aimed at a growing population wielding significant buying power should coalesce to boost the Hispanic advertising upfront.

Last year, services owned by Univision Communications Inc. and Telemundo Networks, plus various other cable networks, garnered an estimated $1.2 billion, a total that should rise by 10% or more this year.

Hispanics, in an estimate from the Census Bureau, accounted for nearly half of the 2.8 million people added to this nation’s population in 2004 and 2005, and now total nearly 43 million, 15% of the U.S.’s 296 million population. Moreover, as Univision pointed out during its upfront presentation to advertisers here last week, Latinos wield annual spending power of some $760 billion.

MAINSTREAM MEASUREMENT

Both Univision and Telemundo, which together grabbed most of the category’s upfront dollars, have switched from having their audiences measured by the Nielsen Hispanic Television Index to the NTI. By using the more-mainstream measurement system, doors to more clients should open.

“For Spanish-language media to grow, we have to fish from the same ocean as the others,” said Univision president and chief operating officer Ray Rodriguez during a post-presentation press conference. “We were limited before we started using NTI.”

Rodriguez and other officials sidestepped questions about Univision’s possible sale, telling reporters this was a forum to talk about the upfront. “Advertisers are not concerned about who owns the company. That’s a corporate thing, not a programming or a viewership thing,” he said.

As is the case with the general market, Spanish-language networks are making a push for multimedia opportunities, looking to grab dollars that will follow consumer eyeballs to whatever format they are interested.

For its part, Telemundo and Yahoo Inc. have created a co-branded Web site for the U.S. Hispanic market, one of 24 different opportunities to put content on digital platforms, according to Telemundo senior vice president of sales, marketing and distribution Steve Mandala.

Spanish-language networks could also benefit from the union of The WB and UPN as the CW next fall. A significant chunk of the $900 million those networks garnered in last year’s upfront could be available.

[Univision co-president of network sales Dennis McCauley] said he thinks about $300 million is up for grabs. Their young demos are the one we’re the hottest with,” said Rodriguez.

The Spanish-language service said it is topping at least one, if not more, members of the Big Four broadcast networks every other night among the 18-to-34 set.

In particular, Univision — through the strength of both editions of Bailando por un Sueno (Dancing for a Dream) — has become a force among young viewers on Sunday nights as the third most-watched broadcaster against various kids and adult demos.

Telemundo also talked up ratings growth. Mandala, in a conference call with reporters before the upfront, said the network registered advances of 15%, 11%, 42% and 68%, respectively, in daytime, early fringe, network news and primetime, with the gains coming primarily at Univision’s expense.

In addition to Univision and Telemundo, broadcaster Azteca America and cable networks Si TV, Fox Sports en Español, ESPN Deportes and Gol TV held upfront presentations in New York last week.

The following are scorecards, highlighting key points the media companies tried to convey to buyers last week:

TELEMUNDO

In touting its various multimedia options, Telemundo officials extolled its in-house production approach.

“The strategy is very clear, very simple, and that is we produce original content specifically for the U.S. Hispanic market,” Telemundo Networks president Don Browne said during the press conference. “We control the content, we create the content and we have the cause and effect to show the results.”

Weekday primetime will consist of the usual slate of new telenovelas, including what is being billed as the first-ever adaptation of the Zorro story into the format.

Perhaps the biggest programming novelty will come in weekend primetime, as El Gran Show will take dead aim against what the network deems to be Univision’s aging Sabado Gigante (Giant Saturday), which will celebrate its 20th anniversary with two specials.

Telemundo, which is planning to air its first afternoon telenovela, will also run a Spanish-language adaptation of popular game show Deal or no Deal, which will return on sister network NBC during the 2006-07 TV season.

Youth-oriented cable network Mun2, which has seen triple-digit ratings increases in many time slots over the last year, albeit from a tiny base of viewers, announced several new programs, including The Chicas Project, which mixes music, fashion and attitude from Southern California; and dating game Hecho en Heaven.

ESPN DEPORTES 

Officials at the network, now in front of 10 million cable households — 1.6 million of which are Hispanic — said various content acquisitions will not only benefit the cable service, but also its radio, magazine, Web site and wireless platforms.

General manager Lino Garcia said new network content includes Mexican League Soccer First Division games; the 2007 World Domino Championship; and Hanzana, el deporte vive, a series of Mexican-based sports documentaries.

In addition, ESPN Deportes will also air Monday Night Football games with its own commentators. Next year, the network will feature extensive NASCAR coverage, including a 17-race Nextel Cup schedule and the entire Busch Series.

On the radio side, the network announced it has acquired exclusive national broadcast rights for the Copa America soccer tournament through 2011.

As part of a far-reaching company-wide deal with the UEFA Champions League through 2009, ESPN Deportes also will vastly expand its coverage of the European club circuit to 77 matches next season.

SÍ TV

Officials last week said the English-language Latino-themed network has commissioned research that illustrates how its young audience is more prone to buy certain products and shop than other consumers.

Sí TV is now compiling and summarizing data from the proprietary study by Mediamark Research Inc., which “creates a brand-specific Sí TV index for many categories of products,” according to Steve Levin, the network’s senior vice president of ad sales. The data, involving 800 Dish Network subscribers, 371 of whom were Sí TV viewers, demonstrates the greater propensity of young Hispanics to buy certain products, or frequent specific stores and restaurants, than the general market, Levin said.

Sí TV CEO Michael Schwimmer told media buyers that the network will have more than 15 million subscribers by year-end, with rollouts in Houston, Dallas and most of Los Angeles, putting in eight of the top 10 Hispanic markets.

Sí TV also unveiled several new shows: Dating Factory, a relationship game show hosted by The Bold and the Beautiful actor Mario Lopez; Flow & Tell an interactive show that encourages audience participation via text messaging and cell-phone photos; and reality program regroup, which details the struggles of a Latino boy band, named C-Note, looking to land its big break.

GOL TV

The soccer-centric service — which inked a distribution deal with Cox Communications Inc. that will see it roll out before 150,000 subs in four of the cable operator’s markets next month — plans to kick off live streaming coverage of two matches per week on its Web site (www.goltv.tv) during the third quarter, said executive vice president of sales and marketing Eileen Montalvo.

Over time, Gol TV — which claims to offer the most soccer programming of any service on the globe, with some 1,500 live matches annually from 15 circuits and tournaments, including Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A — will up its ante of sponsorable streamed matches to 10 per week.

In addition, Gol TV is seeking sponsors for its video-on-demand programming — a 15-minute all-goal show — currently available on Comcast Corp. and Cablevision Systems Corp.

As for new programming, GolTV will strip Mexico Lindo y Futbol, a wrap-up show of scores, highlights, stats and life based around the game in that nation, at 11 p.m. weekdays.

All told, GolTV — which makes its primary audio feed available in Spanish or English — counts some 9 million households, 2.5 million of which are Hispanic households.

FOX SPORTS EN ESPAÑOL

Fox Sports en Español will add 2 million more DirecTV homes next month to the 880,000 subscribers it already counts with the direct-broadcast satellite leader.

The additional DBS distribution will lift the service — which offers soccer, baseball, boxing and other sports fare — into 10.3 million households, including more than 4 million Hispanic homes.

Network officials said the service — which increased its penetration among Latino households by 18% in 2005 — is the most widely distributed and most-watched Spanish-language sports cable network.

The added reach helped the network to continue to record significant gains among the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 demographic. Network officials said the service, dating back to the fourth quarter, had delivered 14 of the top-20 highest-rated sports programs in all of Spanish-language cable among men 18-49 and 13 of the top 20 among adults of that age group.

On the programming front, Fox Sports en Español on Friday evenings will bow a second rendition of its popular Monday night interactive talk show, Jorge Ramon En Vivo!.

UNIVISION

While executives touted branded integration and multiplatform opportunities, video-on-demand and streaming episodes of popular novelas aren’t part of the mix.

Rodriguez said Univision and top programming supplier Grupo Televisa S.A. were in “a dispute” over which company holds the rights to stream full episodes of novelas over the Internet here in the United States, and it wasn’t a “front-burner” issue.

Relative to VOD, Rodriguez said, “We see it as limited. Our concentration is elsewhere right now.”

As for programming, Univision has three new novelas on tap: Heridas de Amor, Duele de Pasiones, and La Verdad Oculta.

Meanwhile, La Fea Mas Bella, the tale of an ugly duckling turned swan that debuted April 24, during its first two weeks has exceeded the performance of Rubi, the network’s highest-rated novella in several key metrics, according to Univision officials.

The network’s cable cousin Galavisión will feature a quartet of diverse new additions: travel show Un Destino; home décor series Notas de Estilo; cooking show Delicioso, starring chef/host Ingrid Hoffman; and Mission Reportar, a competition to find an on-air entertainment correspondent.

Luis Clemens, Linda Moss and R. Thomas Umstead contributed to this story.

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