As TV audiences for star-studded shows like the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards decline, awards shows on Spanish-language TV are setting records for viewership and are increasingly attracting big advertisers.
That's in keeping with one of the stories Hispanic TV-at least dominant Spanish-language network Univision-will tell at this year's TV upfront: Audiences for Spanish-language TV are growing even faster than ad revenue.
English-language awards shows lost on average about 30% of their audience last year, while Univision's "Premio Lo Nuestro" music awards in February had an 18.9 rating among adults aged 18-49, up 20% from the year before, according to an analysis of Nielsen Media Research data by Publicis Groupe's multicultural media unit Tapestry, Chicago. A total of 6.3 million Hispanics watched the 3-hour Univision show.
Over the last five years, ratings for the nine biggest English-language awards shows have dropped by 26%, according to an analysis of ratings data by Univision. During the same period, ratings for four awards shows aired on Univision have grown by 32%, it says.
Univision's "Premio Lo Nuestro" music awards also broke a price barrier with the first 30-second spot to sell for $100,000 on Spanish-language TV, Hispanic media buyers say. Univision didn't name the advertiser or confirm the price.
The "Billboard Latin Music Awards," the only awards show on NBC Universal's Spanish-language Telemundo network, saw ratings increase last year by 9%, according to Telemundo.
"It's probably a fact that Hispanic viewers are more passionate about entertainment," says Tapestry CEO Monica Gadsby.
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"It's a transcultural insight," she says. "The trend of ratings for special programs confirms that. Advertiser demand has increased substantially. There are big sponsorship packages."
Given the growing interest, more shows are popping up. Last September, Univision created a new event called "Premios Juventud," honoring teen music idols and hosted by three stars who arrived on the Miami stage by boat, on a motorcycle and by rappelling onstage from a helicopter. Many of the biggest advertisers from Univision's "Premio Lo Nuestro" also backed the new "Premios Juventud," including General Motors Corp., Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, J.C. Penney Co. and McDonald's Corp.
The bigger picture is that more Hispanics are watching Spanish-language TV now than just a few years ago. So far this year, 58% of Hispanic adults aged 18-34 are watching prime-time Spanish-language TV, and just 42% of that age group are tuning in to English-language TV during prime viewing hours, according to Univision's analysis of ratings data. A year ago, 53% of 18-34 Hispanics were watching prime-time Spanish-language TV, and five years ago it was just 48%, according to Univision.
"A few years ago, Univision and Telemundo mirrored each others' schedules-novelas against novelas, news against news, morning shows," says Dennis McCauley, co-president of sales at Univision Network. "If you weren't into a particular genre, you're gone."
Since then, Univision has launched second network TeleFutura, counterprogrammed to offer different fare; revamped its cable network Galavision; and stolen viewers from English-language networks and Telemundo.
Mr. McCauley won't discuss upfront dollars but says Univision's prime-time ratings are up 22% among 18-to-49-year-olds this year. That's partly because Univision had an unusual number of big hits in a short period-a record-breaking "Premio Lo Nuestro," the debut of "Premios Juventud," a special on Hispanic singer Selena on the 10th anniversary of her death, and the network's two highest-rated novelas ever, "Amor Real" and "Rubi," both recently ended.
Ad revenue for Spanish-language TV is forecast to grow 9.4% this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. It attracted $2.7 billion in ad revenue last year, TNS shows.
"Just as dollars chased rating points from broadcast to cable TV, I think smart advertisers will follow rating points [to Spanish-language TV]," Mr. McCauley says. "Advertisers don't develop new money just for Spanish-language TV, they're diverting it from somewhere else."
It's a tougher market for Telemundo, which hasn't profited as much from the uptick in Spanish-language TV viewership, and had the bad luck to be up against not one but two addictive Univision novelas. The network's ratings are down, despite NBC's massive investment over the last two years to transform Telemundo's business model from Latin American imports to original production, even filming all four of its own novelas.
Longtime NBC executive Don Browne, who just replaced Telemundo's popular President-CEO Jim McNamara, had been Telemundo's chief operating officer for the last two years. Mr. Browne isn't a familiar face in the Hispanic ad community yet but will appear onstage along with other Telemundo executives at the network's May 17 upfront presentation.
Another TV upfront theme this year is integration, with advertisers wanting to include online deals with TV buys.
Univision.com already has the leading Spanish-language Web site, and Telemundo plans to make its online presence a priority.
"Online is very important for us this next year, and we're making it a strategic initiative," says Steve Mandala, Telemundo exec VP-sales. "At the upfront we'll bring to market at least three, and maybe five, deals. We're looking at 360-degree marketing platforms where we built out a package around a central specific theme."
"About 80% of the people doing business with us do online, too," says Univision's Mr. McCauley.
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For instance, Johnson & Johnson's Neutrogena added its own "Fresh Face" award to its sponsorship of the first youth-oriented "Premios Juventud" awards. Univision viewers entered the contest online at Univision.com, and the randomly selected winner got a makeover, tickets and red carpet access to the event, and got to go back stage with Univision Online's style reporter.
For Univision, the upfront will also be a chance to sell the rest of its World Cup inventory, which for the Hispanic market kicks off long before the four weeks of soccer matches starting in June 2006.
The three-day Hispanic upfront that opens May 16 with Univision's presentation also includes third network Azteca America, owned by Mexico's TV Azteca, which is gradually building distribution. Ms. Gadsby likes Azteca America's plan to begin airing its Mexican-produced novelas at the same time in the U.S. market, rather than with a three-to- six-month time lag as Univision does.
"It's a small nuance, but we know our viewers want to stay connected with viewers back home," she says.
This will be the second upfront for English-language Hispanic cable net SiTV, whose "Speak English. Live Latin" positioning is in tune with the demographic shift taking place that will lead to U.S.-born Hispanics outnumbering immigrants, who tend to be Spanish dominant.
Spanish-language Fox Sports en Espa?ol, owned by News Corp., and Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN Deportes will also present at the upfront. ESPN will be selling more than airtime, with a sample issue to show of the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes magazine that ESPN will launch in August with Editorial Televisa. The initial rate base will be 55,000.
"We already know the Spanish magazine sector," says David Taggart, group publisher of Editorial Televisa. "They [at ESPN] know sports in Spanish and the sports magazine market. We'll do a lot of cross-promotion within their properties and Televisa. Editorial Televisa has Maxim en Espa?ol and Men's Health en Espa?ol, the two major men's magazines in the U.S. in Spanish."
Move over, novelas. Awards shows are growing in popularity in the Hispanic community. While novelas and news are staples, marketers are looking for online links to integrate their messages