Univision's 5-Year Plan: No. 1 U.S. Network
Cesar Conde didn't swat away suggestions that Univision could outperform all competitors in at least one important ratings metric within five years: that it becomes the top-rated network -- whether in English, Spanish, or Mandarin -- among 18-to-34 viewers. Univision is currently in fifth place, trailing each of the Big Four. But its viewership in the demo is up 12.5% this season by one measure. At Fox, the leader, viewership is down 20.8%.
That's an auspicious trend -- although Conde, president of Univision networks, said Univision's growth in the next few years is predicated in part on the young Hispanic population. It has to grow and the Spanish-language network's programming must continue to perform.
"It is feasible for Univision to be the No. 1 network in this country in this key demographic," he said at an industry event.
The courtly and voluble 36-year-old also oversees the TeleFutura and Galavision networks. Ever bullish, he said as the new Comcast emerges, Univision is more concerned with NBC as a competitor than Telemundo.
He took a stab at Telemundo, saying it might have work to do to fight off a challenge from TeleFutura -- forget about catching Univision. Telemundo and TeleFutura are nip-and-tuck two this season in both the 18-to-34 viewers and 18-to-49 demos.
Beyond the three networks, Conde also oversees the emerging Univision Studios, a recent creation aimed at producing content tailored to a U.S. Hispanic audience. For years, the company has imported programming from Latin American markets, notably Mexico.
But while other markets provided a constant stream of Univision's core novelas, other genres -- notably reality -- haven't caught on in parts of Latin America. Three series with Univision Studios' backing have hit the air so far, which Conde said have "Latin flair ... with a U.S. twist."
Among them are two reality offerings: "Mira Quién Baila (Looks Who's Dancing)," not unlike "Dancing with the Stars," and "Desafío: La Gran Batalla" (The Challenge - The Big Battle), with a "Survivor" influence. (A novela from Univision Studios is also airing.)
Univision is also moving to "customize content" for Hispanic Americans by sliding in some twists with appeal to a bilingual audience. "Look Who's Dancing" plays plenty of Latin music, but also hip hop and rock' n' roll in English. A novela may have some English dialgoue, for example, so a pair may be chatting in English, while a waiter takes their order in Spanish.