With added muscle, ratings bump, world cup coverage, hispanic outlook brighter

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Telemundo's highly rated TV special "Jennifer Lopez en Concierto" is a glimpse into the future of Hispanic TV. The night after the broadcast of Ms. Lopez' concert on General Electric Co.'s Telemundo, now a part of the NBC family, aired its own Hispanic-oriented version. The special included songs Ms. Lopez performed in Spanish and Spanish-language commentary.

That kind of crossover synergy is one of the promises NBC and Telemundo made to advertisers after NBC announced the acquisition of the No. 2 Spanish-language network last October.

Similarly, at Univision Communications-owner of No. 1 network Univision, 4-month-old network TeleFutura and the Galavision cable network-the cross-platform deals touted at last year's Hispanic upfront are beginning to happen with marketers like Bank of America and Pepsi-Cola Co.

Going into the Hispanic upfront, mainly Telemundo and Univision presentations on May 14-15, ratings are up for Hispanic TV , and growth well above the English-language general market is expected to continue.

"We've historically been able to do three or four times better [in growth] than the general market, and I don't see that changing," says Tom McGarrity, president of Univision Networks sales.

Positive factors he cites are the continuing impact of Census 2000 data about the fast-growing Hispanic market, Univision networks' World Cup coverage in June that will provide "a nice spotlight on our marketplace," and the Jan. 14 launch of TeleFutura.

In a recent report on Univision, Merrill Lynch & Co. estimated the World Cup coverage on Univision, TeleFutura and Galavision would bring in $55 million in net incremental revenue. Merrill Lynch is assuming TeleFutura will break even in its first year, with $100 million in revenue and costs of $100 million.


Last year, the Hispanic upfront grew in high single digits. About two-thirds of Spanish-language airtime is sold through the upfront. Besides attracting new advertisers, which has fueled the continuing growth of the Hispanic market even as the English-language media market shrank, both Univision and Telemundo are trying to grab viewers-not necessarily from each other.

TeleFutura has taken some viewers from both Univision and Telemundo, but Mr. McGarrity estimates TeleFutura has grown the whole Spanish-language TV pie by 2%-4%.

"TeleFutura is doing pretty well for a starter just out of the gate," says Les Margulis, VP-director of communications at the Vidal Partnership, an independent Hispanic agency in New York. "They not only have numbers, they have pretty good numbers."

Telemundo also is trying to attract new viewers, especially the youth audience. In the network's first reality show, "Protagonistas de Novela," a dozen aspiring young thespians are sequestered for two months in a TV studio. In a deal with Spanish-language portal Terra, the TV show is complemented by a Web site, through which one actor is voted out of the studio each week. The remaining pair will win a role in an upcoming Telemundo novela, or soap opera.

"It's drawn an interesting audience, a new audience and a young audience," says Jim McNamara, Telemundo's president-CEO.

Fox Sports World en Espanol, a unit of News Corp.,is upgrading its upfront effort from drinks and a presentation at the Fox Sports Suite at the Fox offices last year to a lunch for up to 200 people at a Manhattan W Hotel on May 16. The sports channel will continue to focus on soccer and baseball.

"We'll see a lot of new categories and advertisers in 2003," says Tom Maney, senior VP-advertising sales at Fox Sports World en Espanol.

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