LOWDOWN ON THE UPFRONT: Shakira Shakes Univision's Stage

NEW YORK--Univision Communications Wednesday kicked off its upfront presentation to advertisers with an opening number from Broadway’s In the Heights and closed with an energized mini-concert by Colombian superstar Shakira.

The 75-minute event, held here this afternoon at the Frederick P. Rose Hall/Jazz at Lincoln Center, registered the highest attendance among the other Hispanic TV upfront presentations this week and featured some of Univision’s top talent, including news anchors María Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos, talk show host Cristina Saralegui and Mario Kreutzberger (aka Don Francisco), the host and creator of the long-running Sábado Gigante.

Speaking to an audience of over 1,000, Univision CEO Joe Uva, who hailed one of the company’s new owners, Haim Saban, from the stage, started things off by declaring that “this year’s upfront is not about marketing to Hispanics, but about marketing itself.”

As expected, Univision came to this year’s upfront presentation armed with a host of data and research showing the level of engagement among Hispanic viewers and the network’s consistently high ratings in primetime among adults 18 to 49.

David Lawenda, Univision president of advertising sales and marketing, presented the audience with some findings from the recently formed Fusion research in partnership with Nielsen Media Research, which measures the viewing habits of product purchasers against the purchasing habits of TV viewers. The Spanish-language media giant’s  presentation also included videotaped client testimonials from such advertisers as AT&T, Ford, General Motors and Miller Lite, among others.

Relative to programming, Univision announced the return of some of its most popular shows, notably El Show de Cristina, Despierta América, El Gordo y la Flaca, and Primer Impacto.  New properties included sports reality TV show El Juego Supremo (The Ultimate Match), a branded soccer entertainment property with partners Nissan North America and Sprint; and the July 20 premiere of Tecate Premios Deportes, an awards show honoring Latino sports celebrities. 

Also in the reality realm, Univision touted the upcoming Viva el Sueño, a talent search competition in search of the “next biggest Latino star.”

Univision also talked up the remake of the decades-old Saturday show Sábado Gigante, which will be revamped in the fall as El Nuevo Sábado Gigante (The New Giant Saturday) and was presented by Kreutzberger. Details of the new version are still sketchy, but it is expected to feature more interactive features and plenty of product integration. 

“It will be a lot quicker, and will have a more modern look,” said COO Ray Rodríguez at a press conference following the presentation. 

Asked by a reporter about a possible change in programming strategy, Rodríguez simply said: “Our primetime is pretty damn good,” signaling no big changes on the horizon

Rodríguez, however, did signal that a “big” announcement would be made in the next week or so regarding video on demand and other cable-related businesses.