Hispanic media growth has slowed somewhat from the breakneck pace of the last few years, but TNS Media Intelligence is forecasting 10.4% growth for Spanish-language network TV in 2006 as advertisers ante up for soccer's global championship series.
TNS says that will be up from a 5.9% increase for the first 11 months of 2005, hitting $3.5 billion for January-November. Spanish-language TV executives put growth during that period at a higher 10%-12%, and analysts generally agree on about 9%-and 5.7% for Hispanic media as a whole.
Other Hispanic media growth ranged from a high of 10.5% for magazines to a low of 1.6% for newspapers for the first 11 months of 2005, according to TNS.
"Copa del Mundo!" exclaims Jon Swallen, TNS' senior VP-director of research. "World Cup advertising revenue for Univision will be at or possibly above $200 million."
It's not all incremental revenue, since Univision would sell ads anyway in programs, but the World Cup boosts ad rates and draws new viewers to Spanish-language TV, Mr. Swallen says.
TOPS $180 MILLION
Univision said in November it had World Cup commitments worth $180 million, and was still selling the monthlong games, which begin June 9, and related programming. That's not a direct indicator of profitability, since Univision will incur hefty costs with its all-World-Cup-all-the-time coverage spread across its three networks-Univision, TeleFutura and Galavision.
World Cup-inspired passion for soccer isn't just on Univision. An innovative branded-content deal called "Nissan Rematch" will bring together in a reality show the U.S. and Mexican teams that played each other in 1997 pre-qualifying games leading up to the '98 World Cup. The series will culminate with a soccer game between the two rivals.
In five 1-hour episodes leading up to the game, the players who qualified for the American and Mexican teams nine years ago will be ambushed wherever they happen to be, persuaded to join their former colleagues, put through training sessions and practices, and finally meet at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles for a rematch May 21.
Oswald Mendez, managing partner at New York agency Vidal Partnership, Nissan's U.S. Hispanic shop, says the idea was to pick two countries with an epic rivalry, and a year recent enough for the players to still be in shape. During the 1997 World Cup preliminaries, Mexico and the U.S. faced each other twice, with both games ending in a draw, adding drama to the rematch.
"It's not just a show but a marketing tool to almost pre-empt the World Cup craze," Mr. Mendez says. "It's a great way to own a piece of the excitement."
Vidal put the "Nissan Rematch" deal together with production companies Animus, based in Miami, and Zeal Television, a U.K. company whose formats include reuniting bands for concerts that are turned into "Bands Reunited" TV programs.
"Nissan Rematch," or "El Reto Final de Nissan," will air weekly with two reruns starting in April on Fox Sports en Espanol, available in almost 4 million Hispanic cable and satellite households. The English-language Fox Soccer Channel will run the live game, with commentary in English.
The program's bilingual host, known simply as George, has hosted everything from the X Games for ESPN Deportes to a TV show called "Gana la Verde" ("Win a Green Card"), in which illegal immigrants compete in "Fear Factor"-like stunts such as eating worms to win legal help with their immigration problems.
AMBUSH BY GEORGE
In January, George drove around in a Nissan ambushing former players on film to join "Nissan Rematch." Starting in February, Fox Sports en Espanol and Fox Soccer Channel will seek to stir up buzz, with the Spanish-language channel rooting for Mexico and the English channel favoring the U.S. side, says Tom Maney, senior VP-ad sales at Fox Sports en Espanol. Nissan North America and other Vidal clients get 40% of the airtime for "Nissan Rematch," and category exclusivity.
Between production costs and airtime, "Nissan Rematch" will cost less than $2 million. Vidal is developing a microsite for the show and sweepstakes, promotions and player appearances for dealerships, Mr. Mendez says. About 25% of the 25,000 tickets for the game will be given away.
The branded-content deal, still a rarity in the U.S. Hispanic market, isn't the only sign of growing interest in Hispanic TV and its viewers.
English-language networks are eyeing the telenovela format that brings Spanish-language TV its highest ratings. Twentieth Television, the programming and distribution division of Fox Television, announced plans in December for a syndicated programming block of telenovelas next fall, and ABC and CBS confirmed they're each developing telenovela projects, according to TelevisionWeek, a sibling magazine of Advertising Age.
And anyone scanning Nielsen Media Research's National Television Index ratings lately will see a new player-Univision has been regularly beating the WB and UPN (individually, before their just-announced merger) among young adults, and challenging one or more of the four biggest English-language networks in some cities and time slots. Until December, the Spanish-language networks were measured only in a separate National Hispanic Television Index.
"This will help them achieve parity of eyeballs with other networks," says Carl Kravetz, chairman-elect of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies and chairman-CEO of Hispanic shop Cruz Kravetz Ideas, Los Angeles. "For this year and maybe next year, there will still be confusion among advertisers about two different sets of figures."
"Most agencies couldn't evaluate us if they didn't get NHTI ratings because the currency was NTI; now we'll be on everyone's screens," says Tom McGarrity, co-president of sales at Univision Network Sales. "In audience, ratings, program genres or sports like the World Cup, more and more we're fitting into the fabric of what's seen as mainstream."
Among cable channels, limited digital penetration in Hispanic households hasn't discouraged newcomers. About 18.4% of the 11 million Hispanic households have digital cable and 22.4% have satellite TV, says Fox's Mr. Maney.
"Given the demographic trends and interest from advertisers, we decided to create two new channels," says Luis Silberwasser, who last April became the first senior VP-general manager for Discovery Communications' U.S. Hispanic Networks. "Discovery Kids en Espanol and Viajar y Vivir [Travel and Live] debuted in September."
Mr. Silberwasser says advertisers so far include American Airlines, Procter & Gamble Co. and Johnson & Johnson.
The biggest cable makeover in the Hispanic market is happening at Telemundo's youth-oriented Mun2, a mostly English-language channel peppered with Spanish. Antoinette Zel, a former MTV Latin America executive who joined Telemundo a year ago as exec VP-strategic planning and cable network operations, moved Mun2 from the East Coast to the major Hispanic youth market of Los Angeles. An all-new programming slate includes a daily show broadcast live from CityWalk starting early this year.
One of Ms. Zel's recent hires, Peter Blacker, Telemundo's first senior VP-digital media, has developed a new Web site for the cable channel (mun2TV.com) and is relaunching Telemundo's previously dismal site. In one sign of things to come, a popular character on Telemundo telenovela "Cuerpo del Deseo" ( "Body of Desire")-a dog that's the only one to recognize its rich owner reincarnated as the family chauffeur-has its own content on the Web as the star of a little novela called "Perro del Deseo."
Mr. McGarrity says Univision is adding more video, both commercials and short-form programming, to Univision.com. Typically about 25% of Univision's TV advertisers do online buys, too.
"I wouldn't be surprised if that goes up to 50% [in 2006]," he says. "And it becomes a video sell rather than an online sale."
Some marketers cut back on ad spending in 2005, but new advertisers continue to enter the market. The pharmaceutical category is finally growing in the Hispanic market, says Steve Mandala, Telemundo exec VP-sales, with advertisers like AstraZeneca's Nexium and Schering-Plough Corp.'s Claritin. Unilever is advertising a growing number of brands to Hispanics, he says.
Big advertisers have been cutting their general-market budgets to spend more ad dollars online, says Philip Remek, an analyst at Guzman & Co., but that hasn't happened with Hispanic budgets. However, he adds, the growth in online spending can mean fewer new dollars for Hispanic media. "[But] ad dollars will flow where there are ratings and growth and audiences," he says.