Upfront Up in the Air for Spanish-Language Networks

Telemundo, Univision Undecided on What Action to Take for Spring

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Spanish-language TV is unaffected by the writers' strike and has no lack of fresh programming, but both major networks are wondering, like their English-language rivals, whether to go ahead with the annual blowout upfront presentations for advertisers in May 2008.
Bored by reruns? Watch
Bored by reruns? Watch

So far NBC is the only network to openly raise the issue of canceling its upfront. For NBC Universal-owned Telemundo, whatever NBC decides "is a consideration," said Mike Rodriguez, Telemundo's senior VP-sales.

"At Telemundo we haven't made a decision yet whether we're going to do an upfront," he said. "It's premature. We need to decide pretty soon, in mid- to late January."

Re-thinking the upfront
At Univision Communications, CEO Joe Uva isn't committed to a traditional upfront. He arrived from OMD Worldwide, where he was CEO, barely a month before last year's upfront and completely revamped it in four weeks.

"We haven't made a decision yet, but we're talking about it internally," said David Lawenda, whom Mr. Uva hired in September 2007 as Univision's president-ad sales.

Mr. Lawenda said Univision won't decide whether to do a big upfront presentation or replace it with a roadshow based on what the English-language networks do. But since major agencies and advertisers traditionally converge on New York for the week to attend multiple networks' presentations, the question of whether Univision would get the same high-level crowd as previous years is a factor.

For TV viewers looking to get away from English-language reruns -- Univision says nearly three-fourths of its audience lives in homes where both English and Spanish are spoken -- Mr. Lawenda suggests watching "Desperate Housewives" in Spanish. Shot in Argentina, "Amas de Casa Desesperadas" will make its debut on Univision on Jan. 10.
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