Spanish-language Television Upfront And Fall Season Discourse

by , Aug 30, 2012, 9:08 AM
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According to Nielsen’s 2012 National Universe estimates of Hispanic HH’s 2+, 53.3% of dwellers are between the ages of 25 and 44, a little more than half the total population. As this new generation of Hispanic Americans emerges, attitudes and behavior, especially with media consumption are changing. In the past, television was consumed by the entire family and in the form of appointment television. Typically, there was one TV in the HH and if “mom” was watching a telenovela, the entire family had to be tuned in. This is not the case today. According to Nielsen, 92% of Hispanic TV HHs have 2+ televisions. The number of TVs per HH coupled with the plethora of media choices available in both English and Spanish means that today’s Hispanics have a choice!  

With the fall season fast approaching, and media buyers deep in negotiations with networks, let’s take the opportunity to reflect on the very different upfront presentations made by the three major Spanish networks – Univision, Telemundo and Mundo Fox. All three seemed to have very different approaches to the content they are providing their audiences.

Univision’s upfront focused on persuading advertisers to shift 15% of their budget from English-language networks – NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX – to Univision. They presented some impactful data that supported Univision outperforming NBC against the 18-49 demographic on many nights this past year, the increase in overall reach with buying Univision vs. simply the Big Four, and their younger-skewing audience when compared to these networks. Are the Univision and English-language network’s audiences comparable?

How did the Univision presentation relate to those advertisers that consistently spend with Univision and recognize the unique value and differences of the Spanish-speaking Hispanic audience when compared to the general market? I don’t think that simply shifting dollars is the answer for all advertisers. But what really struck me is how few changes were apparent in its programming. Overall, in contrast to its Spanish-language network competitors, it seems to be taking the approach that, as the undisputed market leader, minimal changes to its content is justified by its history of dominance in the market. 

Telemundo will launch a new brand image along with new tagline, “Brave New Telemundo,” this coming fall. The tagline will capture the duality of Hispanics who remain connected to their heritage while embracing America, said Jacqueline Hernandez, COO of Telemundo Media.

 Aiming for a 40% increase in its original content, 2013 Telemundo’s line-up will offer six new telenovelas, two daytime shows and reality competitions popular not only on English-language networks, but around the world, such as, “Yo Me Llamo” and “La Voz: Ninos”, a kid’s version of NBC’s “The Voice,” and “La Boda de tus Suenos” (an adaptation from an international hit in Netherlands).It has also acquired the rights to the sequel of “La Reina del Sur,” the network’s highest-rated telenovela. As the second-place player among Spanish networks, it is evident that Telemundo has a lot of fight in itself, and seems to be increasing its game in order to compete not only with Univision, but also in anticipation of Mundo Fox’s launch. But will these changes be enough to keep its current audience as well as attract new consumers?

Despite being a new network, Mundo Fox is prepared to launch with a unique lineup of shows and genres which could end up setting the standard for all Hispanic networks. The network has an upbeat, fresh approach to targeting an assimilated American Hispanic target.  During the upfront, the common theme pulled Hispanics from all different backgrounds into one community using the slogan, “I am [country of origin], I am American.”  The melding of general market and Hispanic market programming will definitely appeal to the new generation of Hispanics.

Its presentation discussed the fact that Hispanics have been used to watching novelas for decades because that was the main programming available. The network is, therefore, aiming to create a demand for break-through programming much like Fox did among the English-language networks. If the quality that has been promised by Mundo Fox is accomplished, then ratings will likely begin to shift, especially among the younger demographic. This strategy could benefit it in that, instead of going head to head against the “giants” in Hispanic broadcast who have had a hold on the older demographic for decades, it is choosing to create something entirely new. 

Steering in a completely different direction from the blocks of telenovela programming, Mundo Fox is offering all genres of programming that general mass-market networks offer.  This includes dramas, comedies, sports, news, and reality programming. The network will also repurpose some general market hit programming in Spanish to include “Bones,” “Minute to Win It,” and “American Dad” in the launch line-up. Mundo Fox will be a trailblazer in broadcast entertainment for the new generation of Hispanics in the U.S.  

With the fastest-growing segment of the population being bicultural Latinos, which networks will prevail? What we do know is that Latinos have been stuck with what was available in Spanish, which was limited. Now they have more choices. As the population continues to become more diverse and skewing younger, it seems likely that MundoFox’s strategy of offering new Spanish-language genres of programming will excel. With the fast growth rate of the Hispanic population and its median age continuing to get younger, we know that language won’t be as important a factor in reaching them. Instead, competition among television networks is going to continue to get fierce, and networks will find that regardless of language, they will need to focus more on keeping content fresh and relevant.

1 comment on "Spanish-language Television Upfront And Fall Season Discourse ".

  1. Judy Adams from Domino's Pizza, LLC
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
    Great article about timely topic. Given the broad range of acculturation levels within the Hispanic viewer base, it would make sense to see that broad range represented in the viewing options and network offerings. In other words, there is room for all of the networks content. Mundo-Fox is filling a necessary gap in the space and only time will tell if the other networks will maintain their own identities or begin to morph into something else.

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