By Brian Steinberg (Ad Age)
When MundoFox, the new U.S. Spanish-language network set to arrive in August, debuts the first ad won’t be a typical 30-second commercial for a packaged-goods product or a car brand, but rather a trailer for a new movie about two mothers trying to turn around an inner-city school.
That’s not the only nontraditional thing to note about MundoFox, a joint venture between Colombia’s RCN and News Corp. designed to shake up the staid lineup of Spanish-language broadcasters in the U.S. For years, Univision Corp.’s Univision has dominated the category, accompanied by flanker networks TeleFutura and Galavision and NBC Universal’s Telemundo playing thePepsi to Univision’s Coke. Now MundoFox, which expects to reach more than 75% of the U.S. Hispanic households by the time it arrives, hopes to broaden the sector with a new broadcast operation — the first new broadcast network in the U.S. since Time Warner and CBS combined UPN and the WB into The CW in the fall of 2006.
In addition to the movie trailer for “Won’t Back Down” — a promotional effort by sister company 20th Century Fox — MundoFox’s air will include commercials from at least 12 charter advertisers including L’Oreal, Toyota Motor Sales USA and T-Mobile USA, according to Tom Maney, senior VP-advertising sales at Fox Hispanic Media. In addition to TV ads, their buys include custom “capsules” on air, web chats with actors and actresses online, integration with host segments around airings of movies, placement in prime-time shows and appearances in digital and social-media venues hosted by the network.
Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. is snaring more ad dollars, due in no small part to a burgeoning Spanish-speaking population. Univision’s ad revenue in 2011 rose 16.7% to about $2.18 billion, according to Kantar Media, while Telemundo saw 2011 ad revenue rise 2.8% to about $915.4 million.
As MundoFox executives developed a plan to make MundoFox stand out, they operated on the theory that most Spanish-language programming available today is aimed at women, capturing men only because the woman of the household makes the choice. MundoFox hopes to put a stake in the ground by airing what it calls “teleseries,” said Hernan Lopez, president-CEO of Fox International Channels, or programming that emulates the action and drama of such well-known U.S. programs as “24″ or “Bones.”
Among the MundoFox entries: “Kadabra,” a high-action drama series that has already proven popular in Spanish-language broadcasting, and “El Capo,” a drug-cartel drama that has been billed as the most expensive series ever made for TV in Colombia. “My bet is that MundoFox will aggregate audiences that today are not part of the Spanish-language market,” said Emiliano Saccone, president of MundoFox.
That’s not to say the network is abandoning a format that has become the cornerstone of the sector’s offerings — soapy, high-drama telenovelas.
“The daily nature of the telenovelas will be critical to any Spanish-language broadcaster for many years to come,” Mr. Saccone said. “It’s not going away. However, in this day and age, if you’re going to ask a viewer to commit to a show five nights a week, you have to win over both the male and female viewers in the house. Long gone are the days when you needed to get the female hooked on the telenovelas and the male eventually gave in.”
These days, Spanish-speaking viewers also speak English, see what’s airing on English-language counterparts and want similar quality and production values, network executives said.