Magazine article Variety

Mundo Needs Mojo

Magazine article Variety

Mundo Needs Mojo

Article excerpt

It's been an uphill climb for Fox's Spanish-lingo startup, but execs vow to build on foundation laid in first year

by Anna Marie de la Fuente

It's the best of times and the toughest of times to launch a Spanish-language network in the U.S.

MundoFox, the joint venture of Fox International Channels and Colombia's RCN Television, will mark its first anniversary Aug. 13. Like any newborn, the broadcast net has experienced growing pains, facing an uphill climb in drawing viewers and gaining distribution in key Hispanic markets.

"We feel like a precocious 1-year-old, speaking fluently - In Spanish of course - but still a baby," says MundoFox prexy Emiliano Saccone.

MundoFox has fallen short of its stated goal last year to reach 70% of Hispanic homes by May; the new network Is available to less than half the nation's 14.1 million Hispanic TV households, though it expects to surpass the 50% threshold soon.

New York has been a particular problem for the network, which has only a weak station affiliate in the nation's No. 1 media market. MundoFox stations consist mostly of smaller indie broadcasters, which have a hard time gaining cable and satellite carriage.

"It would be fair to acknowledge that securing carriage has been more difficult than we anticipated," says Fox International Channels prexy Hernán Lopez.

According to Nielsen, MundoFox has averaged 70,000 total viewers in primetime since September, and about 40,000 viewers in the adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 demos, falling short of the viewership level it promised advertisers. That's a fraction of the aud commanded by market leader Univision and No. 2 player, Telemundo, as well as Univision's UniMas sibling network. But it is within striking distance of Azteca America (110,000 total viewers), the U.S. offshoot of the Mexican media giant that launched in 2001.

MundoFox is backed by formidable media congloms, but it's still a new entrant in a crowded field.

"There's been an explosion of new U.S. Hispanic cable networks competing for space," says Antonio Ruiz of Hispanic ad agency Vidal Partnership. General market outlets also have been investing in more programming content aimed at Latinos. The increasing options spell further fragmentation of auds and of the Hispanic ad spend, which is growing fast, but still comprises less than 10% of total TV ad expenditures. …

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