New York -- Galavision did its first-ever upfront
presentation for Madison Avenue here last week, and officials said the Spanish-language
network is negotiating carriage deals with several major MSOs that should close from the
next few weeks to the first quarter next year.
"Galavision is at a pivotal point," general
manager Lucia Ballas-Traynor told media buyers in Manhattan.
She pointed out that the cable network, owned by Univision
Communications Inc., recently won carriage on the basic-programming packages of both
EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. DirecTV just added Univision, the mainly
broadcast-delivered Spanish-language network, and its sister cable service Galavision to
its "Total Choice" package July 20.
Ballas-Traynor added that Galavision expects to close
affiliation agreements with a number of major MSOs in the coming months, particularly by
the fourth quarter of this year. In total, Galavision now reaches about 15 million cable
homes, and 3.2 million of them are Hispanic households.
The network's direct-broadcast-satellite carriage
alone is roughly 9 million homes, with about 250,000 of them Hispanic households.
Galavision did its upfront here last Monday, an event
Ballas-Traynor called a "mini-upfront." That presentation will be repeated for
advertisers and ad agencies in Miami, Chicago, Dallas, San Antonio, Texas, and Los
In the New York session, she mentioned that EchoStar has
found that the addition of both Galavision and Univision to its lineup last September,
almost a year ago, was prompting some Hispanics to sign up for the DBS service. An
EchoStar spokesman confirmed that
"It is drawing Hispanic viewers to our mainstream
package," he said.
In fact, spurred by its success with Galavision and
Univision, EchoStar on Aug. 3 will start offering a new 20-channel tier of
Spanish-language programming, priced at $19.98. Galavision and Univision will remain on
EchoStar's "America's Top 100," or expanded basic, package.
"There is very strong demand for Spanish-language
programming," the EchoStar spokesman said.
Galavision is bumping up its share of original programming,
according to Ballas-Traynor. In January, the network will introduce a live, nightly ESPN SportsCenter-type
show that will probably air from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Galavision will be airing 450 hours of
new original shows in the year 2000, she added.
"Our strategy is quite simple: to continuously
fine-tune our programming," Ballas-Traynor said.
Part of that mission is to attract underserved
demographics, such as young bicultural Latinos -- especially men -- who have
assimilated but still have alma latina or "Latin soul," according to
Ballas-Traynor. The idea is to create program blocks that appeal to those viewers without
alienating the more Spanish-dominant viewers who share households with their bicultural
Galavision does offer several bilingual shows, such as the
stand-up comedy series Que Loco. The network's strategy has been to
counterprogram against other Hispanic TV programming services, such as Telemundo.
"When they offer novelas, we offer sports,"
Ballas-Traynor told her audience.
Because of its very limited distribution, Galavision at
this point is an "also-ran" compared with Univision and Telemundo, according to
Doug Alligood, senior vice president of special markets for BBDO.
"Galavision's identity is that they are the only
[Spanish-language network] who will experiment with some bilingual programming," he
Galavision is also "growing the Hispanic audience
pie" with its new educational Spanish-language preschool block,
"Galamiguitos," which debuted in June, she said. That audience segment, Hispanic
preschoolers and moms, was also an underserved group, Ballas-Traynor said.
The ratings on the preschool block exceeded expectations,
and it has already attracted advertisers such as Burger King and L'Oreal Kids
At its upfront, Galavision touted itself as the only
Nielsen Media Research-rated cable network, because both Univision and Telemundo are
mainly distributed via over-the-air TV stations. Galavision this year has been averaging a
0.9 total-day rating, flat compared with last year but up from 1997's 0.7.