ALTHOUGH the word “upfront” is English rather than Spanish, the broadcast networks and cable channels that aim programming at Hispanic viewers are again increasing their presence during the annual television upfront week.
There are nine presentations scheduled this week to brief advertisers on programming plans for the 2012-13 season (and yes, also woo them with shrimp and adult beverages). Last May, during the upfront week that preceded the 2011-12 season, there were five such presentations.
The reason for the higher profile this upfront week is the growing interest among advertisers in reaching Hispanic consumers in light of the results of the 2010 census, which found that the Hispanic population had surpassed the 50 million mark. More demand among advertisers to reach Spanish-speaking consumers — and those acculturated Hispanics who are bilingual or speak English — means more efforts by media companies to sell commercial time during shows those consumers watch.
For instance, Telemundo Media has “grown our sales force by over 20 percent,” said Dan Lovinger, executive vice president for advertising sales and integrated marketing. The company added 12 advertisers in the first quarter, he said, in categories like automotive and pharmaceuticals, atop gains last year that included the signing of 50 new advertisers.
Emilio Romano, president of Telemundo Media, said the Telemundo broadcast network would offer viewers “the largest and most ambitious slate of original content in our history,” which, at more than 800 hours, would exceed last season’s total by almost 40 percent.
It is not lost on anyone, regardless of which language they speak, that the first ad deal of the 2012-13 upfront season was struck with a Hispanic media company, Univision Communications, rather than one devoted to the general market.
Two agencies owned by the Publicis Groupe, Starcom USA and Tapestry, agreed last week to buy commercial time from Univision Communications for advertiser clients that include Burger King, Kellogg and Mars. The deal was valued at well into nine figures by David Lawenda, president for advertising sales and marketing of Univision Communications.
“Our niche has become your opportunity,” Mr. Lawenda told a full house of advertisers and agency executives at the Univision Communications upfront presentation on Tuesday.
Univision Communications operates two broadcast networks, Univision and TeleFutura, as well as cable channels that include Galavisión and Univision Deportes (Sports). Univision Communications executives recently said they would team up with the ABC News division of the Walt Disney Company to start a cable channel with news and lifestyle programming in English, aimed at Hispanics who like to watch English-language TV shows.
Disney is reaching out to Hispanics on its own, too, through ESPN Deportes, the Spanish-language member of its ESPN sports empire, and a companion Web site,espndeportes.com. At an event on Wednesday, ESPN Deportes will outline initiatives that include additional coverage of soccer matches and a new show, “Redes #ESPN,” or “#ESPN Nets,” devoted to discussions of sports topics in social media like Twitter, home of the # (hashtag). It will also describe the first original series for the Web site, “Born and Raised,” offering digital shorts aimed at young, bilingual Hispanic sports fans.
ESPN Deportes received recognition during the ESPN upfront presentation on Tuesday, when the audience saw a video clip describing a deal with Diageo, the liquor giant, to advertise on national and local media properties that are part of ESPN Deportes. Disney is not the only mainstream media company that is doubling down during upfront week by making presentations to advertisers about Spanish-language TV along with legacy English-language holdings.
For instance, Telemundo Media — which gave its upfront presentation on Tuesday, covering the Telemundo broadcast network, which specializes in the prime-time serialized dramas known as telenovelas, and Mun2, a cable channel — is part of NBCUniversal, which is majority-owned by the Comcast Corporation.
Fox Hispanic Media, which has scheduled its presentation for Wednesday, is a division of News Corporation, whose Fox Broadcasting unit described its plans for the 2012-13 season on Monday.
Executives of Fox Hispanic Media say they will discuss their three cable channels — Fox Deportes, Nat Geo Mundo and Utilísima — as well as a broadcast network, MundoFox, that they intend to introduce in the fall as a competitor to the Univision network operated by Univision Communications and the Telemundo network operated by Telemundo Media.
And Discovery Communications, the cable behemoth that operates channels like Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC, hosted an upfront presentation on Tuesday for its Discovery U.S. Hispanic division, composed of two channels, Discovery en Español and Discovery Familia (Family).
“We think it’s just critical” to offer programming that appeals to Hispanic viewers, said John Hendricks, chairman and founder of Discovery Communications, particularly because of the younger demographics of the Spanish-speaking population of the United States.
Mr. Hendricks’s remarks came during an appearance he made on the “sizzle reel” of coming shows that was played for the audience at the presentation. The series will include what was called the first game show to appear on Discovery en Español, “Batalla de Ingenios,” or “Battle of Wits,” with challenges based on the channel’s programming genres, among them science and nature.
“That’s been the magic of our company,” Mr. Hendricks said in a statement, “listening to our audience and then representing their diverse interests in how we program our channels.”
CLICK HERE for specially priced $449 tickets available ONLY in the month of May.
Categories: NGLC Conference