Upfront 07

Integration Opportunities Fuel Hispanic Nets' Growth

Univision, Others Primed for Strong Seasons Thanks to Cross-Platform Offerings and Product Placement

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- TV networks come to this year's Hispanic upfront -- estimated at $1.8 billion -- armed with marketing proposals that go beyond the traditional fare of soccer and telenovelas.
Univision hit: 'La Fea Mas Bella'
Univision hit: 'La Fea Mas Bella'

In fact, marketers should brace for cross-platform offerings that include radio, internet, wireless, magazines and events. And there will be product placement aplenty.

"Product integration has been around for a while, but this year we're definitely going to see a stronger push" in that direction, says Alex Alonso, multicultural director at Carat USA, Los Angeles.
Also, expect Hispanic networks to herald increased ratings under the all-inclusive Nielsen Television Index, as Nielsen Media Research dismantles the Nielsen Hispanic Television Index.

Hispanic market fruitful
Overall, this upfront season looks healthy, with Spanish-language TV poised to see a 5.4% growth over 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Spanish-language TV advertising grew 14% in 2006 to $4.3 billion. Univision continues to dominate with about 70% of the Hispanic TV market vs. about 20% for Telemundo and 10% for Azteca America and cable networks. The market splits along those lines for both ad spending and viewers.

From reality shows about mothers-in-law and hopeful beauty queens to high-definition novelas and martial-arts stunts, networks will stress one thing: Marketers can integrate their products or services pretty much wherever and however they wish.

"We'll do anything a client wants ... within reason," says Bob Turner, president-network sales at Azteca America, the U.S.-based network owned by Mexico's TV Azteca. Azteca this year launched "Suegras," a U.S.-produced reality show in which brides-to-be first have to deal with their potential mothers-in-law before they can pick the perfect groom. The 10-week program, airing through May 20, integrated brands as part of the show's plot, with young women going out on dates driving Kias and speaking to their beaus on Verizon Wireless phones.

"The single biggest thing advertisers want is product integration," Mr. Turner says. "The second is tying their brands into other media, specifically mobile and online."

Trouble for Azteca
But Azteca will have to address advertisers' concerns regarding a recent decision by Pappas Telecasting to terminate its affiliation agreements with Azteca America. The decision, effective June 30, includes Houston and San Francisco, two important markets for the network. Mr. Turner declined to give specifics but says Azteca "has a plan" to make up for the lost markets. Overall, he says, ad sales will grow 30% this year to an estimated $40 million.

NBC Universal-owned Telemundo is also expected to highlight plans for product integration and branded entertainment, stressing the importance of producing -- and controlling -- all its content. Telemundo this year grabbed headlines with the debut of "Dame Chocolate," a prime-time telenovela in which Clorox Co. products are woven into the drama.

"[Clients] want us to be more of a marketer and less of a broadcaster," says Steve Mandala, senior VP-sales, marketing and distribution at Telemundo. "I believe that the type of relationships we developed with Clorox is the model of the future."

Maintaining prime-time control
Telemundo will present a lineup that keeps to the network's strategy of producing all its prime-time programs, Mr. Mandala says. "We have the ability to control our content and ultimately to decide when and how it's distributed," he notes in a reference to rival Univision, which imports most of its prime-time programming from Mexico's Grupo Televisa.

Univision at this point produces 51% of its programming, integrating brands into highly rated shows such as "Sabado Gigante," "Objetivo Fama," "Sonando Contigo" and, more recently, "Nuestra Belleza Latina."

"We are client-centric; we do more integration than anybody else. ... We're the 800-pound gorilla," says Dennis McCauley, co-president of network sales at Univision. The top Spanish-language network this year launched "Nuestra Belleza Latina," a weekly reality show that includes branded challenges from Ford Motor Co., JC Penney Corp., and L'Oreal's Maybelline New York and Garnier.

It's not a World Cup year, so Univision is banking on SuperLiga, a sports competition premiering this summer that will pit Major League Soccer's four best teams against four top Mexican soccer clubs.

In June, Univision will launch "Mision: Reportar," a reality show hosted by anchor Carmen Dominicci in which contestants compete for an opportunity to work as reporters for Univision, TeleFutura and Galavision. Viewers will be able to vote candidates in and out online and via their wireless phones.

Uva advantage
Univision is in the spotlight with the formal introduction of Joe Uva, tapped as CEO of Univision Communications in April after the completion of the network's $12.3 billion sale to a private-equity-controlled group. Mr. Uva, 51, is a broadcast veteran (on the sellers' side at Turner Broadcasting System and the buyers' side at OMD Worldwide) with an enviable list of contacts that promise the addition of new advertisers.

"Marketers and media buyers should expect a more flexible, more cross-platform-oriented upfront presentation," Mr. McCauley says.

Cable TV is another area to watch during the upfront, as most Hispanic channels (both in English and Spanish) will be showing their wares and plenty of opportunities in product integration and branded entertainment.

"Integrated marketing is what we're all about," says Tom Maney, senior VP-advertising sales at Fox Sports en Español. He expects upfront ad dollars for the network to grow 30% this year.

Fox Sports en Español telecasts the branded-soccer series "El Reto Final Nissan," now in its second year. In 2007, it launched "Juega la Copa," a multiplatform fantasy game for AT&T. It includes on-air integration via "Jorge Ramos en Vivo," a pullout schedule in Fox Sports en Espanol Magazine, a microsite online, updates via mobile devices and a custom promotional spot.

More sports events
ESPN Deportes, which this year will present jointly with ESPN, is adding event marketing. The ABC-owned network in 2007 launched "ESPN Deportes en Vivo," a multimedia showcase contained in a mini-stadium in which fans play games and interact with the channel's programming. The first event was held March 11 at Miami's famed Calle Ocho festival and was co-sponsored by Dish Latino. More events are scheduled this year and next.

ESPN Deportes is expected to herald its increased distribution by signing up with DirecTV, a 50% boost that will make the channel available in more than 3 million households.

Discovery Networks U.S. Hispanic Group, a division of Discovery Communications, is also holding an upfront presentation this year and will likely tout a recent programming deal with Azteca America in which Discovery en Español started airing a one-hour branded programming block on the network, complete with ad opportunities.

Featured programming was created for Spanish-speaking audiences, such as "Factor Desconocido," a six-part series that explores the science behind the world of the paranormal.

Citing Nielsen figures, Discovery en Espanol says it's in 40% of all U.S. Hispanic pay-TV homes, reaching more than 8 million total subscribers.

New bilingual players
Also presenting this year is bilingual soccer-only network GolTV, with Pele, a friend of founder and CEO Enzo Francescoli, as a special guest. And just like everyone else, GolTV is expected to herald multiplatform deals and integrated packages.

Bilingual cable channel Si TV, which this year opted for a traveling, or "itinerant," upfront presentation that began April 17 in Miami, is presenting advertisers with an array of new shows that include "Total Combat," a reality show focused on martial arts, and "Pastport," in which a U.S.-born Latino is taken to his parents' native country to rediscover his roots.

Si TV is putting a special emphasis on the creation of two websites, sientertainment.sitv.com and sitrends.sitv.com, which are starting up in June and will give advertisers two more platforms where they can pitch products to young Latinos and integrate brands into content.

"Cable is one of the areas in Hispanic TV where the rally has yet to happen," says Carat USA's Mr. Alonso. "And Nielsen measurement is going to be key." Hispanic cable data aren't available yet in the NTI survey.
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