Hispanic BroadcastersEye NATPE Deals

Complete Coverage: NATPE 2013

Latin American deals have taken center stage at the NATPE conference in recent years, but among the channels targeting the rapidly growing Hispanic market in the U.S. the importance of the industry gathering varies widely.

Even though the number of Hispanic channels has increased dramatically in the last decade, to 114 last fall (according to B&C’s most recent Guide to Hispanic Networks, Oct. 1, 2012), many of these services draw on programming produced by their parent companies in Latin America or have access to large libraries or output deals that require them to buy little outside programming at NATPE. The conference is taking place Jan. 28-30 at the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami (its third straight year at the site), a major hub for Hispanic media.

Yet programming and acquisition executives for the two largest Hispanic broadcasters, Univision and Telemundo, stressed that NAPTE remains a vital place to meet producers and distributors of programming. Executives at some of the newer channels, such as News Corp.’s MundoFox, reported that they have scheduled a full slate of meetings.

“It is a very important meeting place where all the industry leaders come together,” said Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks. “It is an important way to hear about some of the trends and to engage with some of the producers and content genres that are getting traction.”

Deals in Place, Shopping for More

Univision is one of several Hispanic broadcasters that are coming to NATPE with many key programming deals already in place. For example, Televisa, the largest broadcaster in Mexico and one of the world’s largest producers of telenovelas, supplies many of Univision’s most popular primetime novelas.

Likewise, Telemundo produces six to seven primetime novelas a year at its in-house studios. And MundoFox, which launched last year, gets almost all of its primetime scripted series from the Colombian broadcaster and producer RCN.

That, however, won’t stop all three broadcasters from looking for additional programming at the NATPE meeting. Univision has been rapidly expanding the number of networks it offers, from two broadcast and one cable channel to 12 linear channels over the past 18 months. In early January, Univision rebranded its Telefutura network as UniMás.

As part of those efforts, the company has expanded its original production at Univision Studios and established closer ties with independent producers. “In the past year, we have signed two of the other leading producers of content from Latin America for UniMás,” the Colombian producers Caracol TV and RCI, Conde said.

And with NATPE taking place close to Telemundo headquarters, Maria Iregui, VP of programming and scheduling, believes it provides an excellent opportunity to meet with outside producers and distributors.

While Telemundo is always looking for new ideas, “we are acquiring mainly movies…kids programming and entertainment formats,” Iregui added.

For originals, Telemundo is focusing on novelas that have been specifically produced for the U.S. Hispanic market, explained Joshua Mintz, executive VP, scripted programming and general manager, Telemundo Studios.

These story lines also tend to be more realistic and involve a significant amount of location shooting. “Telenovelas can’t just be a Cinderella story anymore,” Mintz said. “They need to reflect what is happening in the dayto- day lives of U.S. Hispanics.” As part of that trend, Mintz noted that Telemundo recently started production on El Señor de los Cielos (The Lord of the Skies), which is being shot entirely on location in Mexico.

Generally, about 60% of the company’s other novelas are now shot on location, which has boosted production values as well as international sales efforts at NATPE and other markets, Mintz said.

At NATPE, MundoFox will be focusing on “teleseries” that have a fixed length of 50 to 80 episodes, much less than the typical telenovela, which generally has more than 100 chapters, noted Emiliano Saccone, MundoFox president.

These series tend to cost more per episode. “It gives you more room to do all the things that appeal to men, such as shooting on location and having a significant amount of action,” Saccone said.

Even though RCN supplies most of MundoFox’s primetime schedule, Adriana Ibañez, executive VP, programming, noted that the network will be meeting with a number of other distributors and producers during NATPE to fill open programming time slots on weekends and in daytime.

Teleseries and game shows are both on the shopping list. “Teleseries have been very successful in the last four or five years in reinventing the telenovela,” Ibañez said.

Hooray for Hollywood

Jeff Meier, senior VP of programming at Sony Movie Channel and Cine Sony Television, noted that the Cine Sony channel launched last year with the simple programming proposition of supplying the best Hollywood movies dubbed into Spanish.

“There is a huge audience for Hollywood movies, and we’ve been able to differentiate ourselves as serving up blockbuster Hollywood movies in Spanish,” Meier said.

Because the channel currently has all the films it needs for the next few months from Sony, Meier wasn’t planning to attend the NATPE market. But he will be talking to Sony’s Latin American executives based in Miami about the programming they see at the conference. He is also looking to cut deals for films this year with other studios. The service might also consider adding music or TV series in the future.

Digital rights are becoming more important in all of these deals, both at NATPE and during the rest of the year, because Hispanics are much heavier users of mobile and online video, said several executives.

In addition to digital rights, Hispanic broadcasters are also looking to work closely with producers on “secondscreen experiences and added digital features like bonus content or Web exclusives,” said Glenda Pacanins, VP of programming strategy integration at Telemundo.

“We have to get our content available on every platform,” added Saccone, noting that MundoFox is working on a TV Everywhere offering.

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