Raúl de Quesada is assistant general manager and senior vice president of marketing, communications and creative services for Fox Sports en Español and Fox Soccer Channel. The Cuba-born executive leads the marketing operations for the two networks, helping develop new properties and partnerships to boost content. As of today, Fox Sports en Español reaches more than 14 million cable and satellite households, of which over 5 million are Hispanic households. De Quesada, a seasoned marketing executive who has been instrumental in the growth of both networks, spoke to Hispanic TV Update about the network's upcoming upfront presentation, and how Fox plans to engage viewers online through a new partnership with Power Challenge. An edited transcript follows:
Q: You recently partnered with Power Challenge to incorporate Power Soccer to the Fox online properties. How does online gaming fit into your strategy?
A: I was not directly involved in the negotiations [for Power Soccer], but what I can tell you is that it is a new interactive asset that connects perfectly with our multi-platform sports offering. And this is important to us for one simple reason: Hispanics consume media across all platforms. And the more we do to serve our demo, the better off we're going to be. We need to serve them wherever it is they are consuming their media, but ultimately we want to drive them back to the TV screen. Everything we do has a ratings purpose at the end of the rainbow.
Q: Can you think of any ratings highlights for Fox Sports en Español?
A: Without going property by property, I can tell you that 2008 was a record-breaking year. We had eight out of the 10 top sports programs on calendar year 2008. Also in June FSE recorded its highest ratings of the year with the Copa Santander Libertadores semi-finals.
Q: Someone wrote recently that, when it comes to TV advertising sales, flat is the new booming this year. How does it look for Hispanic cable?
A: I do think the Hispanic marketplace has not been as affected as the so-called general market. Because of whom we serve, and because we have a very pure demo, we feel we might not be as hurt as others will be. We continue to be very optimistic, although we'll know a bit more in the upcoming months.
Q: Cable has been growing at a faster pace than network TV. Is this also the case in the Hispanic marketplace?
A: No question about it. Our communities continue to embrace cable much more than the general market; and we continue to see growth.
Q: Some networks are holding off their upfront presentations this year in New York, will Fox Sports en Español be hosting an event?
A: Tuesday May 19, lunchtime at Cipriani, same place we've done it in the last two years. And we're really looking forward to it. Again, we're really optimistic, and I'm sure we'll see a lot of advertisers there.
Q: As you know, several Spanish-language publications have shut down in recent months. What are your plans for the Fox Sports en Español magazine?
A: As far as I can tell, we are the only one left. Our magazine is not only a branded magazine, it is a major marketing tool. We will continue to print it and distribute it monthly, reaching 750,000 Hispanic households. I guess the key to its success is its distribution model, as it gets delivered via the major newspapers in the country. The magazine is fully sustained by advertising.
Q: Another property you were directly involved with is Premios Fox Sports? What is happening there?
A: Premios has evolved this year in the way we originally conceived it. We took it to the region; we had a Mexican version and an Argentine version, both events held in December of 2008. We had a run in Miami that was very successful but we knew from the beginning that we wanted to take it to the region, so now we're finalizing our plans for 2009 and it looks like we'll be doing both again, Mexico and Argentina. The regional focus is important, because we are a regional network with an important footprint in Latin America.
Q: Any other programming highlights?
A: Copa Libertadores is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and we are very proud of it. Copa is the most important club championship tournament in Latin America, with 38 teams from 9 countries competing from January through June. To commemorate the anniversary, we're presenting FSE's new logo and branding identity. Besides Copa, we are always developing relevant content. In addition to soccer and baseball, we also have boxing and martial arts, which along with baseball and soccer are among the sports that most appeal the Hispanic sports fans. Our quest and our focus is clear: everything we do across platforms is to drive ratings to our television offerings.
Q: As the world gets ready for 2010 FIFA, how is FSE preparing for it?
A: As you know, we don't own the Spanish-language rights [to the World Cup], but we are in the process of planning some shoulder programming and properties around the tournament. Soccer is our lifeline, so anything that has to do with soccer, we're going to do something to allow our viewers to be close to it.
Q: Are you going to South Africa?
A: I would love to have the opportunity, but we don't know yet. I was in Germany four years ago, and I would love to go next year. South Africa must be such a fascinating destination.