NEW YORK — Removing any doubt that Hispanic TV is competitive, upfront week kicked off here May 13 with two networks, Azteca America and Estrella TV, spatting over conflicting presentations both set for last Monday night.
“There is a gentlemen’s agreement, but Estrella TV broke it,” Bob Turner, president of network sales at Azteca America, said in an interview with Multichannel News of Estrella TV’s decision to host an “intimate dinner” with clients and agencies on May 13, the exact same night as Azteca’s event.
Later that evening, when asked about the overlap, Estrella TV chief operating officer Winter Horton said his network had to move its presentation to Monday because Fox Hispanic Media, in turn, had taken Estrella’s Wednesday spot.
The week took off in earnest last Tuesday morning, when Univision’s upfront attracted more than 1,600 guests to the New Amsterdam Theatre, and culminated with Telemundo’s event at Lincoln Center. Overall, 10 Hispanic TV networks showcased their programming last week.
Some highlights from their presentations follow.
Univision surprised attendees with news of its “strategic investment” in El Rey Network, the English-language cable channel created by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures. The news was not included in a release sent to the media beforehand, but that morning, Univision CEO Randy Falco tweeted: “Looking forward to hosting Robert @Rodriguez at the #Univisionupfront for our joint announcement.” Rodriguez took the stage and said El Rey Network will become “the home of kick-ass entertainment.”
At the network’s after-party at Espace, competitor NBCUniversal parked a van outside touting its 90% reach among Hispanics.
Telemundo unveiled partnerships with Ryan Seacrest and the Miss Universe Organization (which parent NBCU coowns with Donald Trump) to bring two new properties to Hispanic audiences: Duelo Musical: Superestrella (“Superstar Showdown”), and Miss Latina USA, a reality show/beauty pageant whose winner will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
Telemundo came to the upfronts touting solid ratings and a pledge to advertisers to continue to closing the gap with Univision. The programmer also unveiled more than 1,000 hours of new original content across multiple platforms; introduced a new business unit, multiplatform studio Fluency; and debuted TelemundoMás, an authenticated video player for the Web and mobile devices that offers full-length show episodes.
Discovery U.S. Hispanic
Discovery took over Gotham Hall for a luncheon presentation touting record-breaking audience gains for both Discovery en Español and Discovery Familia. The programmer unveiled a slate that included several original productions: Socer Lab, a studio-based series about soccer; Acceso Exclusivo: Los Tuzos del Pachuca, a docu-series about the Mexican soccer team; and travel reality Desafío x 2: Brasil. Ivan Bargueiras, general manager of Discovery U.S. Hispanic’s networks, hosted the presentation.
Fox Hispanic Media
On Wednesday morning Fox Hispanic Media unveiled programming highlights for its four networks: Fox Deportes, Nat Geo Mundo, MundoFox and the newly rebranded Fox Life, formerly Utilisima.
Acknowledging that MundoFox hasn’t reached the distribution levels promised last year, Fox International Channels CEO Hernán López set out to address “the elephant in the room” — as an image of an elephant bearing the MundoFox logo was displayed on a huge screen.
“We know we haven’t accomplished what we promised, but we are very bullish about the future,” Hernán told a full house at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. On the bright side, MundoFox CEO Emiliano Saccone said this week the network would add distribution in such key markets as New York, Houston and Philadelphia.
On the Fox Deportes side, boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya and TV host Mario Lopez were on hand to present the upcoming reality show Los Golden Boys, featuring current world champions and up-and-coming fighters as they prep for their bouts.
Other sports talent joining the Fox Deportes presentation included Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White and Cuban-American NASCAR racer Aric Almirola.
ESPN Deportes; upfront presentation overlapped with NUVOtv’s on Wednesday afternoon, making it a tough choice for media buyers — and journalists — eager to hear about the latter’s new association with superstar Jennifer Lopez, as well as JLo herself. Yet it was a full house at the J. Urban Theatre, where ESPN executives announced a significant increase in soccer programming, including an original slate of shows themed “Road to Brazil 2014” and geared around next summer’s World Cup.
The lineup will include a documentary series, Destino Brasil, a series about popular soccer cities Capitales del Futbol, and another documentary about the Mexico-United States rivalry, Gringos at the Gate. Dream Job: El Reportero’s third season will also be centered on the World Cup.
As expected, Lopez was the star of NUVOtv’s upfront presentation at Edison Ballroom. Lopez, now the network’s chief creative officer, will help curate and produce several original productions, including a documentary about herself, as well as reality shows Gotta Dance and Rodney’sJoy. The evening featured an onstage “one-on-two” interview by Mario Lopez, the host of Mario Lopez: One-on- One, with JLo and NUVOtv CEO Michael Schwimmer.
Vme Media hosted a group of media agencies Wednesday afternoon and brought in some of its new investors, including Eduardo Hauser, Juan José Rendón and Eligio Cedeño, who last month assumed a controlling interest in the network.
Vme’s new head of revenue, Noel Poler, used some humor in introducing himself: “I am the new head of revenue. Yes. A new one. I know you’ve heard this before. But you’ll see me again. I promise!” Vme touted its “unique status” as a public television network that does “good” and invited companies to become underwriters of its programming on both Vme and Vme Kids.
Hispanic TV Upfront week wrapped late last Wednesday with a circus-themed presentation/bash at Webster Hall, where Tr3s brand manager Fernando Gastón and other network executives unveiled reality series Familia de Circo (Circus Family) and Divas del Azúcar (Sugar Divas); as well as two Spanish-language telenovelas, Fortuna and Niñas mal 2.
Tr3s’ presentation was colorful, brief and immediately followed by a dose of reggaeton, a most welcome touch for a crowd that was too exhausted to hear one more programming pitch or see another slide about the growing Hispanic television market.