Telemundo has improved its local and national news programming, its on-air graphics, and its selection of talk shows and international novelas. In addition, Telemundo wrested the Mexican national team's home soccer games from archrival Univision.
The result has been increased viewership since Mr. McNamara's arrival. In May 2001, the network had a 9 share and 510,000 households viewing during weeknight prime time, compared with a 6 share and 313,000 viewing households in November 1999, according to Nielsen Hispanic Television Index.
Telemundo, owned by Sony Corp. and Liberty Media Group, has a 30% share of viewing Hispanics, vs. Univision's 70% share. That may not sound impressive unless one compares it with the less than 20% share the network had before Mr. McNamara arrived.
"We've carved out franchises for ourselves," says Mr. McNamara. But that's still not enough for the one-time sports agent. The 47-year-old Panamanian-born network chief now is pondering using Second Audio Program, or SAP, technology typically reserved for simulcasting English-language programs into Spanish so he can reach English-dominant Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike. He says it could take two years.
Then there "are going to be 250 million people out there who don't speak Spanish," he says. "From a marketing standpoint, that's an interesting proposition."