A television veteran -- and 2009 Multichannel News Wonder Woman -- Alina Falcon this year was named
to the new post of president of news at Univision Communications. Her charge is
to guide news coverage and programming across Univision Networks, Univision
Television Group and Univision Interactive Media. The first initiatives under
her new title included an unprecedented, commercial-free national forum on
immigration May 14, which brought together some of the nation's top figures on
both sides of the debate. Twenty-one days before the start of the 2010 FIFA
World Cup in South Africa -- and two days before Univision's upfront
presentation in New York City -- Falcon talked with Hispanic TV Update about the company's comprehensive coverage of
the soccer tournament, which this year includes live high-definition broadcasts
of all game, as well as on-demand coverage through various cable distributors.
An edited transcript follows.
MCN: Univision in April announced it will deliver
"unprecedented" World Cup coverage of the 64 matches during the 2010 FIFA World
Cup in South Africa. What makes this coverage unprecedented compared to
Alina Falcon: This summer, fans across the
globe will unite in one language -- passion -- and here at Univision we speak
their language like no other network can. What makes this coverage
unprecedented compared to previous tournaments are a variety of elements.
We will be leveraging all of our assets -- Univision,
TeleFutura, Galavision, Univision.com, Univision Movil and Univision On Demand --
to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience for our audiences. All 64 tournament
matches will be broadcast in high-definition on Univision's networks. We will
offer live streaming of our broadcasts of the games, make them available 24
hours later on Univision On Demand and offer special World Cup editions of our
most popular programs, as well as in-depth analyses and match recaps, video
blogs and real-time SMS alerts, among other things.
In addition, we launched a futbol-dedicated Web site,www.univisionfutbol.com,
and just a few weeks ago had the exclusive and private viewing of the World Cup
trophy at our headquarters here in Miami (the first of only two stops the
trophy made in the U.S. before it was returned to South Africa).
MCN: Can you give us an idea of the extent of
coverage beyond the actual games? How many reporters, analysts and talent will
Univision send to South Africa?
and TeleFutura networks' most popular programs, including Despierta America
(Wake Up America), El Gordo y la Flaca (The
Scoop and the Skinny), Primer Impacto (First Impact),
Republica Deportiva (Sports Republic) and Contacto Deportivo de Sprint (Sports Encounter Sprint) will feature special World Cup editions of their
shows, highlighting the most exciting matches, exclusive and behind-the-scenes
content, fan reactions, and cultural festivities around of all of the day's
In addition, Univision's news teams -- including Noticiero Univision, Aqui y Ahora and Noticiero Univision Ultima Hora -- will also be on location to
report on South Africa, its customs and the latest World
Cup news. All of Univision Television Group's local stations across
the country will also provide extensive news coverage of the World Cup in their
newscasts. Last but not least, Univision.com and Univision Movil will also
offer video blogs and real-time SMS alerts, among other things.
We will be sending more personnel to this World Cup than
ever before. We'll have our entire World Cup commentator team -- Pablo Ramirez,
Jesus Bracamontes, Jose Luis Chilavert, Jorge Perez-Navarro, Jorge Ottati and
Diego Balado, as well as Univision host Fernando Fiore -- broadcasting live
from South Africa, and we'll also be sending many of our entertainment
personalities as well.
MCN: What would you say will be the most distinctive feature of Univision's coverage of the Cup,
that wasn't available, say, in Germany four years ago?
AF: Every four years, each World Cup is
truly distinct on its own, but if I'd have to select just one, I would say that
it is the combination of all the platforms that we are leveraging for this
World Cup. It is not only about HD; it is not only about mobile. It is the
combination of HD, [video-on-demand], online streaming, blogs, texts, mobile,
etc. That is what is going to make this World Cup unlike any other.
MCN: Do you expect a
significant increase in audiences this time? Why? Can you put this number in
AF: In the 2006 World Cup, Univision
outdelivered ESPN (which aired 21 matches) and ESPN2 (which aired 31 matches)
among adults 18 to 49 by plus 14% and plus 119% respectively (does not include
the eight matches that aired on TeleFutura or ABC). Univision's networks
reached an estimated 50 million viewers (reach based on a one-minute
qualifier). With all the momentum leading up to the tournament and the
comprehensive experience we have created for viewers across all our platforms,
we have expectations of exceeding our viewership of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
MCN: Besides the World Cup, can you share with us one
or two examples of how news coverage will be handled under the recent
alignment? And what happened to weekly news show Aqui y Ahora?
AF: I think the
most recent and relevant example I can provide is our coverage of the
immigration marches across the country on the heels of the recently-passed and
highly controversial Arizona SB1070 immigration law and its amendments. Our
Univision Network news team partnered with our affiliate stations in local
markets to report on location from each of the marches taking place across the
country. We provided four hours of uninterrupted, unmatched and extensive
coverage, bridging our network shows with local news anchors to bring viewers a
wide perspective of what was happening.
Additionally, and as you may have seen, last Friday we
hosted a town hall event where we again tapped resources from both our network
and local news teams to provide an open forum where both sides could debate and
present their points on this topic.
Aqui y Ahora is on
a short hiatus and will be back on the air June 1.
MCN: Will you be going to South Africa?
AF: Yes. Wouldn't miss it for the world.