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Hispanic Upfront Week Brings Parties, Promises

Coming back to New York City for upfront week, Hispanic networks treated marketers and advertising agencies to lavish parties and presentations offering innovative, "ground-breaking" ways to reach the growing Hispanic population, now at 50 million strong. Here is a brief recap of a week that kick-started Monday morning and wrapped up Wednesday evening.

Monday, May 14

Telemundo on Monday morning kicked off Hispanic upfront week with a press briefing at MoMa's The Modern restaurant touting 800 hours of original programming, a figure that -- by Tuesday night -- had been updated to be 900 hours of original programming. Telemundo's upfront presentation and press breakfast was hosted by its brand new president Emilio Romano, a Mexico City native who took over from Don Browne at the helm of the NBC-owned network. Telemundo took the opportunity to pitch a "Brave New Telemundo" and presented several upcoming shows including La Reina del Sur 2 and El Señor de los Cielos, a co-production with Argos Television featuring the story of Mexico's most prominent drug dealer Amado Carrillo. El Señor de los Cielos stars Rafael Amaya and is scheduled to air in 2013.

Monday evening saw the return to New York City of Azteca America, which had been absent the upfront scene for a while. Azteca America on Monday night held not an "upfront" but an "in front" party at the Top of the Standard in Downtown Manhattan. A packed party featured some Mexican talent including singer and children entertainer Tatiana as well as the writers and creators of Una Pelicula de Huevos, a successful animated long-feature which now has spun off a series that began airing this week on Azteca America, Fabrica de huevos (Egg Factory). The unusual primetime series features the adventures of a series of animated eggs that cross the Mexico-US border in search of better opportunities.

Tuesday May 15

Tuesday was a packed day, kicked off by an ESPN Deportes breakfast, in which the network presented some of new programming and multimedia initiatives, including the launch of a digital destination, ESPN Deportes+,a digital vertical available on ESPN3, the company's live multi-screen sports network. ESPN Deportes+ will provide coverage of live sports in Spanish on a multi-screen network available on computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox. The platform is set to launch later this year.

Later that morning, Univision Communications treated its audience with an opening act by Sofía Vergara, who managed to get David Lawenda, president of advertising sales and marketing, to dance onstage. The event ended with a song from Shakira, though ended somehow abruptly, as the audience had been anticipating an onstage presence of Pitbull. Under a stubborn rain, guests were transported from Times Square to Cipriani's on 42nd street in New York City's famous double-decker buses, which unfortunately had to use only their first floor. Attending the Univision post-upfront party were Colombian actress Sofía Vergara, journalists Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas and the famed Mario Kreutzberger (aka Don Francisco) who this year is celebrating the 50 years of his Saturday show, Sábado Gigante.

Moving along 42 street, media buyers and advertising agencies scrambled to make it back to the West Side for Discovery en Español, a "short and sweet" presentation in the words of a media buyer, that introduced attendees to some of the network's famous documentaries and original series. Discovery also took the opportunity to present its first ever reality game show, Batalla de Ingenios.

Wrapping up Tuesday, Telemundo expanded on its press presentation and took the stage at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, theatre in midtown Manhattan to feature some of its newly acquired -- and long time -- talent, including Aracely Arámbula, the face of an upcoming prime-time novela.

Wednesday May 16

Holding its second upfront ever was Estrella TV, which came to Gotham Hall touting bigger distribution and an event that was headlined by popular Colombian singer Juanes and Mexican norteño star Ana Bárbara. Winter Horton, COO of Estrella, says the network has added 20 new markets in the past 12 years. Horton also says Estrella TV has added 45 advertisers in the past year and overall things growth has been "fantastic." New integrations on Estrella platforms include Ford, Macy's and M&M Mars.

Among the most-anticipated events of the week was Wednesday's presentation by Fox Hispanic Media, which used most of its time to introduce audiences to MundoFox, the network now scheduled to launch on Aug. 13. According to the presentations held Wednesday at the Ziegfeld Theatre in midtown Manhattan, MundoFox programming includes a mix of shows produced by RCN in Colombia, dramedies produced in Mexico, and even a brand new newscast that will air everyday from a studio in Los Angeles. MundoFox touted a distribution surpassing 75% of U.S. households by launch, including some of the nation's top Hispanic markets. Distribution in New York City, a crowded, highly competitive market, is still in the works, but network executives expressed confidence of securing a NYC berth by time of launch.

Following MundoFox's midtown presentation, attendees made their way to Instituto Cervantes, where Vme was holding its sixth upfront presentation after launching in 2007. Vme's newly appointment general manager, Alvaro Garnica, took the stage to highlight a "Different Television" (Televisión diferente,) pitching for the first time the power of public television. Court Stroud, the recently appointed director of sales, pitched the idea of corporate sponsorships as "good work efforts" on Television. Vme presented a few new original shows, including Una vida en la escena, a show produced by actress Lorena Rojas and featuring Adriana Barraza, who goes behind the scenes with famous Latino actors and actors.

The week wrapped up late Wednesday night by an evening presentation of Viacom's MTV Tr3s, which featured a live performance by popular Colombian singer Juanes, and the introduction to upcoming shows on the network. In addition to Dame un Break (see related article), Tr3s announced the launch of new shows and digital initiatives, including ‘Dame un app," Quiero mi app, offering interactive tools that let users interact with others to plan an important event. Franchise sponsors to date include Target, Cover Girl, Pampers, Skittles, AT&T and Toyota.