MBPT Spotlight: NBC Universo To Use Super Bowl Telecast To Highlight Rebranding

While most of the ad industry and media attention has been focused on NBC’s commercial sellout level for the Super Bowl telecast on Feb. 1, another NBCUniversal event, scheduled for the same day, has been approaching with much less fanfare, but with no small amount of import.

Sunday, Feb. 1, is the day NBCU’s Hispanic cable network mun2 will relaunch as NBC Universo. Highlighting the launch day will be the cable network’s own telecast of Super Bowl XLIX.

NBC Universo will televise in Spanish its own pregame and postgame show, air the big game with its own announcing crew, including sideline reporters, and like NBC, is almost sold out of both its in-game and shoulder programming inventory.

“We’re working hand and glove with NBCU Sports Ad Sales to sell our Super Bowl spots,” says Mike Rosen, executive VP, NBCU Hispanic Group Advertising Sales, who oversees the ad efforts for Telemundo and NBC Universo.

As of this week, Rosen says the network is into its final push to fill up the game and surrounding programming. “There are a small number of avails left both in the game and in our shoulder programming for Super Bowl Sunday,” he says.

Rosen adds that a “vast majority” of the advertisers in the NBC telecast will also be airing spots on NBC Universo, although there will be some advertisers who are exclusively in the Hispanic telecast. He is anticipating that some of the NBC Universo Super Bowl spots will be the same creative as those airing on NBC, but some will be different. Some will be in English, Rosen says, while others will be in Spanish.

Those marketers who bought commercials in the NBC Super Bowl telecast were given first right to buy spots in the NBC Universo telecast. Rosen says the audience watching the Super Bowl on NBC Universo will be totally complementary to the one tuning into NBC, with no duplication, so it will be additional reach to a targeted Hispanic viewership.

Rosen did not discuss pricing for the spots but said the numbers will be somewhat based on the ratings from the Super Bowl telecast on Fox Deportes last February. The Super Bowl on Fox Deportes drew 561,000 viewers, making it the most-watched non-soccer sports event in Spanish-language cable history. NBC Universo is hoping to break that record this year.

Advertisers in the NBC Universo telecast are abiding by the same rules as those in the NBC telecast regarding exclusivity.

Well-Timed Hand Off

The mun 2 switch to NBC Universo was specifically timed to happen on Super Bowl Sunday to give the network a major platform to get maximum exposure for viewers. The official switch will happen right at midnight on Saturday, Jan. 31, when the network will begin using its new name, new logo—featuring the NBC peacock, and on-screen graphics.

The goal in rebranding and relaunching the network is to broaden its audience appeal and make it more attractive to cable operators. While mun2 is carried in more than 40 million homes and by most of the major cable operators, many offer it on Spanish-language pay tiers. NBCU’s goal is to get more free distribution.

During Super Bowl weekend, NBCU will offer NBC Universo free to all cable operators to stimulate more viewership.

Joe Uva, chairman, Hispanic Enterprises and Content at NBCU says the time has come for the network to branch out to appeal to a broader audience of Hispanic viewers.

“Mun2 has been around for some time and it was initially a terrific concept to target the emerging group of bilingual millennials by connecting them to music and celebrity programming,” Uva says. “But over the years the network struggled to get cable distribution, and its programming execution has vacillated. What we realized is that mun2 has a very loyal, but very narrow audience demographically, almost a small cult following of regular viewers.”

Uva says NBCU conducted some research studies to see what the Hispanic marketplace wanted to see on the network, what would interest them and how the programming gaps could be filled on the network.

“Our research found that among the Hispanic cable networks, there is not much big event entertainment and sports to fill the audiences’ appetite,” he says. “[It] found that we could appeal to a broader audience by offering more live events involving major sports and entertainment, and that this will also create premium opportunities for advertisers.”

A lot of viewers also did not realize that NBCUniversal owned mun2; bringing in the peacock logo will help tie in the cable network better to its parent company.

Sporting Chance

NBC Universo has all the Hispanic TV and digital rights to the sports that Telemundo has similar rights to, including the World Cup, Olympics, English Premiere League soccer and NASCAR.

Mun2 has already been televising Premiere League Soccer. That will continue when it relaunches as NBC Universo, and it will televise 100 matches total this season. Mun2 has also been televising WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown in English and after the relaunch it will begin airing them in Spanish.

During 2015, NBC Universo will televise the Mexico-based NASCAR Toyota Series and some NFL telecasts next season, in addition to this season’s Super Bowl.

However, much of its sports coverage will be centered on FIFA World Cup soccer action. NBC Universo will cover four FIFA events in 2015—the Men’s FIFA U-20 World Cup (for players under the age of 20) from May 30-June 20; the FIFA Women’s World Cup, from June 6-July 5; the FIFA Men’s Beach Soccer World Cup from July 9-19; and the FIFA U-17 World Cup from Oct. 17-Nov. 8.

Then in 2016, NBC Universo will televise the Summer Olympics from Rio.

Uva believes all these events will draw interest from cable operators since they will get some local avails to sell commercial time in them.

“We’re going to bring the fans close up to the players in the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup matches to prepare them for the 2018 Men’s World Cup,” Uva says. “These young men will be the next Messi’s and Renaldo’s. We will focus on great storytelling and cover all the Latin American teams and create viewer excitement over a four-year journey that will head into the Men’s World Cup.”

Uva says entertainment programming, including live music events, as well as scripted programming will be rolled out over the course of the year.

“Our target audience for NBC Universo will be the 18-34 segment of the 18-49 demo, but we will also be programming to that 35-49 audience. And we will also not abandon the younger audience either. But we are looking for a much broader audience and a much more affluent audience for our advertisers.”

Uva says since NBC Universo has the Spanish sports TV rights, all sports telecasts will be in Spanish. But the network’s entertainment programming will be in both Spanish and English.

To promote the rebranding, NBCU has been running on-air, digital and out-of-home advertising since early December, as well as a print campaign in magazines such as Sports Illustrated and People en Español.