Kevin Conroy might not be fluent in Spanish, but with over 17 years experience working in the so-called mainstream media, he knows Spanish-language Web sites are the place to be. The former AOL executive joined Univision in January, and has since worked in beefing up Univision's online and mobile content -- a real challenge, considering his company is not allowed to use content from partner Grupo Televisa on its Web offering. Last month, Univision's Web novela Vidas Cruzadas delivered record-breaking video streams and generated thousands of messages on the series' videos and forums, giving Conroy and his team some momentum to explore more Web productions than can eventually feed up Univision's TV channels. Conroy reponded via email to a series of questions. An edited transcript follows:
Hispanic Television Update: What did Univision Interactive Media learn from Vidas Cruzadas and how might that experience help shape the future of Univision's online offerings?
Kevin Conroy:Vidas Cruzadas generated over two and a half million U.S. video streams and has become one of our top three most watched properties ever [with up to 48,000 daily viewers streaming the novela.] That said, there are some key learnings, including the duration of the episodes and the scheduling around new episodes that will help shape future productions.
HTU: At a recent conference in New York, you talked about some "interesting paid and subscription-based models." Is there any particular service or offering that you think will work as a paid model among Hispanics? Will Univision.com users pay for your content?
KC: Yes. We offer exclusive content and video offerings on mobile devices that we know users will pay for. We have seen successes with various premium SMS programs and subscription-only video. As we develop more apps in the coming months, we will explore multiple versions that include free and paid models.
HTU: Univision recently launched apps for iPod, iPhone and Blackberry. What would you say is the size of this market and what kind of response have you received so far?
KC: Since the iPhone video application launched, users have downloaded approximately 20,000 video apps. In terms of usage, and according to Simmons NCS/NHCS, it is estimated that 1.6 million Hispanic A18+ own an iPhone or Blackberry [...] and 4.5 million Hispanic A18+ own an iPod.
HTU:You have said Web programming can be an incubator for future TV programming. Do you see this happening any time soon? Do you see, for example, Vidas Cruzadas crossing over to TV?
KC: The inter-connectedness of media allows us to leverage our TV, radio, online and mobile platforms like never before. There is exciting potential for more crossover and we have done it before. Our first Web novela, Mi Adorada Malena, for example, premiered on Univision as a one-hour TV special.
HTU:What has been the growth of video search after the partnership with Truveo?
KC: In September 2009, Univision.com had 2.1 million video searches, which represents a 147% increase in video searches compared to the same time last year.
HTU: Is Univision.com ready to address English-dominant Hispanics?
KC: Our first priority is to super-serve the U.S. Hispanic market with Spanish-language content they really care about, and find highly relevant and compelling. Beyond this, we are actively looking at ways to attract and engage bilingual and English-dominant Hispanics, which may include English-language content and products. Most recently, we offered English-language captions on our popular Web novela Vidas Cruzadas.
Bilingual Hispanics already come to Univision.com for content they can't get anywhere else, such as special events and award show coverage, immigration information, news from Latin America and superior soccer coverage, including the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup. Univision.com provides innovative and culturally-relevant content for all of our audiences, recognizing the diversity of this rapidly growing population. We appeal to and generate traffic from U.S. Hispanics with cultural ties throughout Latin America.
HTU: Televisa is increasingly penetrating the U.S. market with content from its multiple platforms. How can Univision.com compete with content from Televisa?
KC: We are continually evolving and evaluating our programming strategy, moving towards a more user- and partner-focused model. We are also shifting internal resources to focus our support on the most popular content verticals and offering premium inventory for the users who are already visiting us. Every programming launch will be all inclusive, reaching today's user wherever and however they consume content. We have developed a more diverse programming strategy and new verticals are part of this strategy.