For all the talk about Univision's imminent launch of three
new cable networks (dedicated to sports, telenovelas and news), few details
have been disclosed about specific launch dates, carriage deals or even the
nature of some of their content. But Jennifer Ball, Univision's senior vice
president of distribution marketing, is hard at work making sure the new
channels -- as well as Univision's full suite of networks -- are properly
promoted and marketed by the nation's MSOs. Ball, a cable veteran who spent
most of her career on the distribution side (working for Continental
Cablevision, later MediaOne Group), spoke to Hispanic TV Update contributor Laura Martinez about Univision's new
distribution partnership marketing unit; driving subscriber growth; and her
company's commitment to TV Everywhere. An edited excerpt follows.
MCN: Univision this
month announced the creation of a Distribution Partnership Marketing Group.
What is the idea behind this?
The goal is not only to get deals done, but to position ourselves as partners
[to the distributors], and this is a completely new area for us. We want to
team with them to strategically integrate their product -- or their service --
to effectively connect with U.S. Hispanics. Think about it: Not only we have
great content, but we have an amazingly creative team and access to top talent.
We can offer insights about the market, from what the audience wants to watch
and their media consumption habits to their motivations for pay TV purchase
MCN: You have said
the new unit will be more like an ad sales department or a solutions group than
a traditional marketing division. What does this mean?
JB: The idea is
to provide custom solutions. Different advertisers are on different stages and
have different ways to distinguish themselves in how they want to reach the
market. We offer marketing acumen, strategic thinking, research, insights and
even production, with a creative team that works closely with Univision's
programming facilities in Miami.
HTU: This sounds like
Univision will be doing the work of a creative and/or media shop ...
JB: No, not at
all. We are going to work closely with media and advertising agencies to craft
a custom-made solution for the distributors. We recognize that many of our
distribution partners don't have the resources to deliver on the Hispanic
growth opportunity, so we will serve as marketing partners. We are not here to
replace their creative or media buying agencies. What we are is really a
supplement to those things.
MCN: Where is
Univision on the whole TV Everywhere effort?
JB: TV Everywhere
is a huge opportunity for us. We are committed to educating the consumer base
through our own media, and working with the distributor to get the word out
that our content will be available on TV Everywhere. We are very committed to
it, simply because that is where the business is heading, and we're ready to
launch as soon as our distributors are.
happened to VOD? You wrote recently that there was a lack of awareness among
consumers about the free VOD offering.
JB: We learned
that there is still education to be done ... [The study] confirmed the value of
communicating with this consumer and educating them on the value of the pay TV
package. We've certainly done a lot, but there is still a high percentage of
our audience that still thinks that [VOD] is something that they had to pay
for. Like ordering a PPV movie, they thought "we're going to get charged" for
it. That to me represents an opportunity, not so much a problem. If you thought
you had to pay for something and then you find out you get it for free, well,
that's a great thing -- same with TV Everywhere.
MCN: Why would you
say consumers didn't know much about VOD?
JB: When we
launched our VOD platform, we drove the entire platform for Hispanic TV viewing
on-demand, not just Univision. That was a good thing. We went to No. 1 very
quickly after launch, but we also believe that we need to continue to look for
MCN: Where are you
with the launch of the three new channels? Is the telenovela channel launching
JB: We're in
discussions with everybody. As soon as
we have news, we will it share with you. We are going to have the most robust
offering and the most popular content possible to reach the Hispanic audience.
If you couple that with a team that can do everything from research, analysis,
development of creative ... that's a winning combination. We have a 50-year
legacy with our viewers, so we want to be the go-to place that distributors go
to when they want to grow their business.
MCN: Univision news
anchor Maria Elena Salinas said last month at the Multichannel News/Broadcasting
& Cable Hispanic Television Summit that some of the content in the
upcoming all-news channel might be in English. Is Univision going to include
English-language content in any of the new properties?
JB: We are
absolutely committed to Spanish-language content development. I wouldn't be the
right person to talk about the broader vision [in terms of English-language content].