When Cesar Conde,
Univision Networks' newly tapped president, decided to set up the network's
first production studio, turning to Luis Fernandez for the top job was a no-brainer.
A native of Spain, Fernandez was no stranger to the world of U.S. Hispanic television. Between 2000 and
2005, as general manager of Plural Entertainment, he had produced several
Spanish-language programs, including Univision's first fiction series, Al Filo de la Ley. Prior to joining the
network, the former journalist had served as executive president of Corporacion
Espanola, Spain's state broadcaster, where he oversaw its
television, radio and online divisions. From his office in Miami, Fernandez spoke to Hispanic TV Update about the challenges of producing in a tough
environment and what viewers and distributors can expect from the new venture.
MCN: Everybody talks about the new Univision Studios,
but does this mean you will be building additional facilities to what you
already have? Where are these studios going to be based?
Luis Fernandez: Univision
Studios will be based in Miami. The
entity will operate as a division of Univision Communications and will work
24/7 on the production and co-production of original content ... We already have
studios and facilities in Miami, so
we'll be extending our productions and co-productions here, in our very own Miami studios.
MCN: But how is this different from, say,
what Univision already produces?
LF: A very
important aspect of this new initiative is that Univision Studios will be there
to work on the production needs of Univision, TeleFutura, Galavision,
Univision.com and Univision Movil. This is going to be a studio producing and
co-producing content for all our platforms, not only television. The idea is
that if Univision.com wants to produce a Web novela, they will turn to us for
content, and so on.
MCN: Are there any plans to produce outside Miami? say, open studios in Latin America as Telemundo has been doing now for
Studios will be based in Miami, Florida, but it's premature to discuss any
other details at this time.
MCN: How much original content do you
LF: We produce
more than 4,000 hours a year, which represent somewhere around 60% of our total
content. Establishing our own studios is only a natural extension of our
MCN: What would you say is the main
objective of these studios?
beyond the mandate of Cesar [Conde], who created the division, is to serve our
customers as best as possible. The point is to be intimately connected to the
lives of U.S. Hispanics. To really cater to their needs - what they want to
watch on TV, how they want to surf the Web and what they want to get on their
mobile devices ... wherever they are, that is where Univision Studios will have
MCN: What would you say is the biggest opportunity in
terms of content... what is really missing out there that Hispanic viewers really
want to watch?
LF: Well, I
would have to say that is the million-dollar question...
MCN: Can you use the feedback from your offer via
UnivisionOnDemand to determine what your audiences really want more of?
LF: That's an
excellent question. I don't have the figures in front of me, but we will
definitely use the Univision On Demand platform as a source for feedback to
determine what our audiences really want.
MCN: Producing your own content is a very expensive proposition,
at a time when Univision has a heavy debt load. How does the company plan to
finance these productions?
LF: We are
not disclosing financial details but can tell you that we are confident that
this is the right time to launch Univision Studios and are confident of our