Magazine article Variety

Aiming for Más Appeal

Magazine article Variety

Aiming for Más Appeal

Article excerpt

The race is on to capture the U.S. Hispanic market, with mainstream networks and their Hispanic counterparts battling for primacy. The result is an increasing cross-pollination of programs and a proliferation of networks, with Fox, Lionsgate and NBCU among those joining Hispanic allies to find and produce content aimed at the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the U.S.

New Hispanic channels are emerging, some in Spanish, some in English, in a bid to appeal to a mix of generations and language preferences that can exist under one Latino roof: The latest census reveals that of the 50.5 million Hispanics in the U.S., 30% are Spanish-dominant while the rest are either English-speaking or bilingual.

Broadcast leader Univision is now the clear No. 5 broadcast network (behind the Big Four) while rival Telemundo has been picking up steam.

"The number of networks focused on the Spanish space has increased from around 12 in 2001 to 100 just a month ago," says Univision networks prexy Cesar Conde, who points out that Univision alone will have a dozen networks by year's end compared with three last year.

These include Univision's upcoming news and sports pay TV nets in addition to the telenovela channel now on Dish Network plus the six TuTV pay TV channels, jointly owned with Televisa.

One of the most anticipated new players is MundoFox, a joint venture between Fox Intl. Channels (FIC) and Colombia's RCN, due to launch in the fall. The new Spanish-lingo network will showcase edgier Colombian telenovelas and look to build on Fox's success in inserting itself into a market. Meanwhile, Fox and Univision recently bowed Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's panAmerican talent competish "Q'Viva! The Chosen," while Fox's "Family Guy" airs on Univision sibling web TeleFutura.

Elsewhere, sister networks NBC and Telemundo share talent and resources in the exec ranks as well as on-air.

In the 2011-12 upfront season, an estimated $88 million of new business came to Spanish-Language TV, with Telemundo taking more than half (55%) of the new business, according to Lauren Zalaznick, chairman of NBCUniversal entertainment, digital networks and integrated media.

"The reported 2011/2012 upfront numbers were $1.75 billion for Univision, and $400 million for Telemundo, up 20% from the 2010/2011 upfront," says Antonio Ruiz, partner-communications planning at leading Hispanic ad agency, the Vidal Partnership. TeIemundo and its youth-skewed bicultural cable sibling Mun2 delivered more than 20% growth year-to-year, marking their best upfront season ever.

"Our Hispanic strategy is not limited to Telemundo (or Mun2) alone," says Zalaznick, who points out that NBCUniversal's theme parks, studio, cable and broadcast networks, digital assets and Comcast's leading position among cablers in tiie U.S. allows the company to collectively reach 93% of all Hispanics. She adds that landing the Spanishlanguage U.S. rights to World Cup Soccer matches in 2018 and 2022 would not have happened without the joint efforts of NBC Sports and Telemundo Deportes.

NBCU parent Comcast has begun to fulfill its pledge to launch 10 independently owned channels on its cable systems over the next eight years. Of these, four will have Hispanic ownership.

Leading the initial pack is youngmale-skewed El Rey from Latino helmer Robert Rodriguez and partners John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa of FactoryMade Ventures.

"When Fogelman approached me with the idea for this channel, I immediately said yes," says Rodriguez. He's building soundstages on his 25-acre property in Austin for the Englishlanguage channel, which will include animation, music, reality, scripted shows, movies, docus and sports programming. …

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