Galavisión Mounts a Programming Counteroffensive


To better serve its Hispanic constituents, Univision Communications Inc. today (April 29) will launch a new programming lineup of exclusive, first-run Spanish-language shows for its Galavisión cable network.

The new schedule is designed to offer alternatives to Hispanic broadcast networks Univision, Telefutura and competitor Telemundo, across dayparts.

"We fully expect this will grow cable penetration and distribution," said Univision Networks president Ray Rodriguez. "This is a huge population that is underserved."

Galavisión is distributed to 30 million U.S. households, including 5.2 million Hispanic homes.

A few months ago, Hispanic viewers who wanted to watch something other than telenovelas
on weekday nights didn't have many other choices, said Rodriguez.

Many viewers often ended up tuning to English-speaking fare instead, he added — even those who didn't understand the language.

"We are giving Hispanics more choices in order to keep them from going to English," Rodriguez said. "That's really our competition."

Earlier this year, Univision launched Telefutura as its second over-the-air network, offering Spanish-dubbed Hollywood theatricals in primetime as an alternative to the traditional telenovelas.

With Galavisión's new lineup, "We're giving viewers a third choice," Rodriguez said.

Galavisión's revamped evening programming includes the newsmagazine Por Usted
and the live news programs Vision AM
and Noticiero Con: Juaquin Lopez Doriga.

Sports and current events will also have a home during primetime. Weekends will focus heavily on sports, including coverage of the 2002 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in May and June.

On weekday mornings, Hispanic audiences will also find new choices this year. Telefutura launched in January with a block of children's programming on weekday mornings as an alternative to the Good Morning America
-style morning shows found on Univision and Telemundo.

Starting this week, Galavisión will begin its mornings with hard news more akin to Cable News Network, Rodriguez said. Primero Noticias
will highlight news from Latin America and around the world.

Weekday afternoons will feature a new variety show, Vida TV.

To help drive demand for Galavisión among Hispanic viewers who do not yet have cable, the company plans to heavily promote the new lineup on its Univision and Telefutura networks.

Univision dramatically outpaces all other networks in ratings among Hispanic households, said Rodriguez. In any given week, the broadcaster typically places 48 of the top 50 shows.

In the weeks that an English-language network makes the top 50 among Hispanic viewers, Rodriguez said, it's typically for a high-profile show such as the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards.

The company can also use the power of its Web portal to boost interest in Galavisión, Rodriguez noted. The relatively young Univision Online quickly became the No. 1 U.S. Spanish-language portal, he said.

While Rodriguez could not give financial estimates, pending the company's first-quarter earnings call, he said he expects to see a growth in advertising for the network.

Because the Hispanic population skews younger than the overall U.S. population, Galavisión reaches advertisers' two most coveted demographics — adults 18 to 49 and 18 to 34. "That's our strength," he said.

Rodriguez said Galavisión has not been threatened by the recent launches of Spanish niche services.

With respect to the ratings, "Galavisión is bigger than anybody, by far, in Spanish cable," Rodriguez said. "It's not even close."