Hola TeleFutura

Today is a red-letter day in Hispanic broadcasting history -- TeleFutura is being launched.

The 24-hour Spanish language broadcast network comes from Univision, the Spanish language network with about 85% of the Hispanic audience. It will be broadcast to 44 stations nationwide (25 owned by Univision and 19 affiliates) in 27 markets, reaching 70% of Hispanic homes.

Launched as an alternative to Univision and Telemundo, the Spanish language networks with virtually identical formats, TeleFutura will offer a variety of different programming for every audience and day part.

There will be children's cartoons weekday mornings (Mi Tele), daytime talk shows (Monica), prime time movies (Cine de las Estrellas), teen movies on weekends (Cineplex) and plenty of sports. Novelas, or soap operas, the main stay on Univision and Telemundo, will run late mornings and afternoons, but not in prime time, like the other networks.

As for sports, there will be Friday night boxing (Solo Boxeo) and Mexican soccer (Futbol Liga Mexicana). TeleFutura will share World Cup Soccer with Univision. The company has exclusive rights for the World Cup, which runs from May 31 to June 30.

The company began selling advertising during the recent upfront, selling it exclusively on TeleFutura as well as in packages with Univision. Rates are reasonable, although the company won't comment on them. Monica Gadsby, joint managing director for Tapestry, the multicultural division of Starcom Mediavest Group, says it's being priced "very attractively, you may net out a package slightly less than Univision alone."

The company has announced a number of charter advertisers, including AT&T, Sears, Johnson & Johnson, Miller, Budweiser, Ford, Gillette, Pepsi, MCI, JC Penney and Toyota. The company declined to say what charter sponsorship signifies. Pepsi has its own show, La Cartelera Pepsi, a dance party for teens running both weekend days.

The launch comes during a time of high growth in the Hispanic population, as confirmed by the latest census figures. "To support that growth, we need more viewing options," Gadsby says. Hispanic media is flourishing with lots of cable stations, magazines and radio. But TeleFutura is in a unique position. “They’re launching with strong affiliates, a strong distribution lineup and the backing of Univision, which is financially stable,” she says.

Starcom made buys on TeleFutura for Miller, Kellogg’s, Americatel and Payless.

“There’s a market that doesn’t appreciate the soap operas that’s looking for an alternative in a movie lineup and sports," Gadsby says. "Univision didn’t have enough sports. It was positioned as a family network with some sports, but TeleFutura will have a greater focus and more total hours.”

The network says it is going after Hispanics who don’t watch Spanish TV during different day parts because they don’t like the programming. They watch English language TV or no TV.

Gadsby calls advertising on TeleFutura “somewhat of a risk because it’s not yet established and we’re in a recessional year.” But Univision says TeleFutura has already been well received by advertisers. As for the recession, it says Hispanic TV is less mature than English language TV, so it wasn’t severely hurt by it last year. According to CMP, Univision generated $1.06 billion in ad revenue during the first 11 months of 2001 and $1.27 billion in 2000.

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