Hispanic Networks Weigh Upfront Options

Cable TV Upfronts 2009: Complete Coverage From Multichannel News

With the announcement this week that Univision will forgo a fancy upfront presentation in New York in favor of targeted meetings in key Hispanic markets, other smaller networks are expected to follow suit. But while several players are still weighing their options, V-me and Fox Sports en Español are sticking to their annual New York City events.

"Of course we will [host an upfront presentation,]" said an enthusiastic Frank Donaldson, V-me's advertising chief, when asked about plans for the two-year-old Spanish-language network. Scheduled for the morning of May 20 at New York City's Samsung Experience, V-me's upfront will be its second.

Also hosting an event this year in New York City is Fox Sports en Español, scheduled for May 19 at Cipriani restaurant. Others, including the newly created Estrella TV, are still waiting on the sidelines and trying to determine whether to hold an event.

The lavish presentations for thousands of people in New York seem to be a thing of the past. NBC Universal-owned Telemundo led the charge in 2008, when it decided to cancel its yearly presentation in favor of a series of "client-development" meetings with agencies and advertisers. Now in their second year, the meetings involving the 2009-2010 upfront season kicked off this month in Miami.

Univision, for its part, is launching a series of "Partnership Forums" starting on April 1 and finishing with an event in New York at the end of that month. Cities visited include Los Angeles and Chicago. "This upfront season we are on a mission to connect with every marketer and help them see what they are missing if they are not tapping the economic power of [the Hispanic consumer,] said David Lawenda, president of advertising, sales and marketing.

Explaining the rationale behind holding a New York presentation even when the two largest Spanish-language networks are not doing so, V-me's Donaldson said it is important for the budding network to showcase what it has to offer. This week, for example, V-me kicked off a series of short-form spots featuring typical consumers asking questions about insurance coverage.

The spots, dubbed Pregúntale a Farmers ("Ask Farmers"), were produced by V-me for client Farmers Insurance and will run across the V-me schedule throughout 2009, supporting Farmers' sponsorship of the nightly V-me Noticias and weekly current affairs magazine Páginas: The New York Times.

"We're trying to bring the type of solutions and agency that go beyond the 30-second production," said Donaldson. In the past, the network has produced similar efforts for clients including Verizon, Ford and Sears.

"Univision and Telemundo will not be able to increase their number of advertisers because they're mature," said Donaldson. "Just like everybody else, we're swimming against the tide. But the difference is that we're also in growth mode."