Discovery's Parada Thinks Beyond the :30

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Since taking over advertising sales for Discovery Communications’ portfolio of Hispanic networks in the U.S. in 2005, Víctor Parada has been instrumental in getting more advertisers onboard with media buys that go beyond the traditional 30-second spot. Although the network didn’t hold an upfront presentation this year, Parada spoke to Hispanic TV Update during upfront week in New York about his network’s record-breaking ratings in primetime and about the art of integrating clients’ brands into programming. An edited transcript follows:

Q: Why did Discovery decide not to hold an upfront presentation this year?

A: I think we now have a better understanding of what advertisers are looking for when they are looking at national Hispanic television. We know better how we can bring our value to the table and be able to really dialogue with our clients to develop specific ideas for them. We did have an upfront presentation in our first two full years of operations [2006 and 2007]. Back then, it was important for us to hold these events in order to showcase our programming and raise an awareness about Discovery en Español. But this year, after legitimizing the network with the ratings we’ve been able to garner and with the viability showing our programming strategy works, we felt that the most effective way to really engage agencies and advertisers was to allocate our resources to have more customized presentations.

Q: You said you have legitimized the network with the ratings you’ve been able to garner. Can you tell us what those ratings are?

A: In 2007 Discovery en Español truly emerged to be a viable and legitimate participant in the marketplace. That year, Discovery en Español achieved the No. 1 spot in primetime audience growth among all eight measured networks. It achieved 48% primetime audience growth in [adults] 18-49, far greater than the other seven networks. That 48% was fueled by women 18-49, which reported a 76% growth. That type of growth, compared to other networks, shows that we’re growing faster, but also that the ratings we have been able to develop continue to be competitive with networks that have greater distribution, such as Azteca America or cable networks like Galavision or Fox Sports en Español. And in many instances, we have been able to surpass the ratings of Azteca America, Galavision and Fox Sports en Español, despite the fact that we’re not as widely distributed as they are.

Q: Ratings are good. But you also need distribution, right?

A: There needs to be a distinction between reach and distribution. Distribution is a definition of how many eyeballs you can reach. There are a lot of channels in my home that I never watch, for instance. What happens is that you have new entrants out there that are touting their distribution but they don’t have any eyeballs that they can count yet from a Nielsen point of view.

What we have proved is legitimate and viable because Discovery does have Nielsen ratings. We came into the marketplace two years ago and talked about our programming and distribution, but didn’t have much to talk about eyeballs. Now, we are talking about eyeballs.

In December 2007, for example, when we aired Atlas Mexico, we were able to top the reach of TeleFutura … When you think a network with a reduced distribution and which is not part of a conglomerate was able to surpass TeleFutura on a Sunday night, it shows that we’re on to something.

Q: You talk often about working together with advertisers. How does this work?

A: The key value of how these partnerships begin is content. Meaning: What environment can we provide that can be endemic to an advertiser? For instance, one of our clients is SC Johnson, which has products such as Pledge, Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles, and so we’ve created short-form program extensions called Ideas para la Casa which is an extension of a show called Mientras no estabas, a home-improvement, home-decor show. So we use the talent of that show, providing tips to people to, say, how well you can enhance your home using mirrors. And that’s content that is a perfect environment to integrate Windex. Same goes with our other eight genres.

Another example is Delia’s Catch, a very popular show both in English and Spanish about fishermen in Alaska who put their lives at risk every day. That environment was perfect for client State Farm, which sells insurance and is a sponsor of that program. We also developed short-form content that became an extension of that show and brought in our own host, dressed as a fisherman, who talked about risky situations, and then he talks about State Farm.

Q: With the economy in a downturn, do you expect advertising to grow this year?

A: In 2007, we had 47 advertisers, not including direct response, and I foresee this number is going to grow significantly in 2008.

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