Cinelatino, WAPA América Go Upfront With ’16-’17 Plans

Hemisphere Media Group-owned WAPA América and Cinelatino have revealed their respective programming plans for 2016-17, becoming new entrants in a shrinking pool of Hispanic-focused upfront presenters.

Executives from the cable networks shared what's in store for both — including Cinelatino’s four telefilms from the producers of the popular El Señor de los Cielos and a new branding effort for WAPA America — at a June 9 advertiser presentation in midtown Manhattan.

Among the highlights: Top Mexican production company Argos Comunicaciones, creator of popular Telemundo “super series” El Señor de los Cielos, has agreed to co-produce four exclusive, original multiscreen films with Cinelatino. The first two movies will be directed by Cielos director Walter Doehner.

“Argos is the hottest company in Spanish-language creative right now and they consistently deliver high-quality, highly-rated programs,” Hemispere vice chairman Jim McNamara said during a panel discussion hosted by executive vice president of client partnerships Lucia Ballas-Traynor. “We look forward to the opportunity to integrate our clients — from script development and product placement to organic integrations in exclusive digital extensions of the films.”

Cinelatino also announced two major projects centered on the “narco” culture — including a comedy. A first for the genre, the “narco-romantic” comedy Cuernito Armani, inspired by a “narco-corrido” narrative song by Mexican banda genre artist El Komander, is set to air on the network this fall.

Cinelatino also has plans to coproduce a five-part series based on the life of “El Cholo,” the right-hand man and key hitman for the world’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán.

Additionally, Cinelatino will serve as the first U.S.-based network to air the film ¿Que Le Dijiste a Dios? (What Did You Say to God?), featuring the greatest hits of famed Latin pop balladeer Juan Gabriel. It will air a karaoke version of the movie, allowing Gabriel's fans to sing along.

WAPA America's big news was that it has secured the latest Turkish telenovela to be dubbed into Spanish and telecast for U.S. Hispanic audiences: Sila. No premiere date has yet been set for the series, which has all of the elements that viewers want in a novela: love triangles, family drama, ultimate betrayal and shocking twists," WAPA Television president Jose E. Ramos said during the panel discussion.

WAPA America is also banking on its Puerto Rican brand heritage and familiarity with stateside Boricuas by launching an on-air branding campaign with the motto, “Mi Isla, Mi Orgullo” (My Island, My Pride). While the network is targeted to all Hispanics who consume Spanish-language media, the campaign consists of 60-second sponsor-friendly vignettes spotlighting the contributions of notable Puerto Ricans on both the island and U.S. mainland, including chefs, artists, actors, comedians and sports figures.

The campaign will also invite users to submit their own short-form content online demonstrating their pride, and the vignettes will live on social media and at online portal