mun2 Seeks Wider Viewer Universe With ‘NBC Universo’ Flip

So much for that quinceañera.

NBCUniversal’s mun2, which last month celebrated its 13th anniversary as a youth-targeted Hispanic basic-cable network, will dispose of its identity next Feb. 1.

In its place: “NBC Universo,” described by network president Rubén Mendiola as a “modern general-entertainment cable channel for Latinos.” The NBC Universo logo will prominently feature the iconic NBC peacock, while the network’s new name reinforces its ties to Comcast’s broadcast and cable-TV holdings — a move clearly designed to increase awareness among media buyers and, subsequently, boost ad revenue.

More significantly, the pending evolution of mun2 as it approaches adolescence to NBC Universo will instantly pit the rebranded entity directly against Univision’s Galavisión, the longtime ratings and revenue leader among Hispanic basic-cable networks. The move reinforces NBCUniversal’s quest to attack and topple Univision, widening its fight from broadcast TV to the cable sphere.

In prepared comments, Mendiola said: “We will super-serve the Latino community with a universe of exciting viewing options in ways that are compelling and culturally relevant. Through this strategy, we are building a high-quality cable TV channel that we believe distributors are ready to embrace, advertisers are ready to support, and viewers will be drawn to.”

Mun2’s success with live sporting events — along with NBCUniversal becoming the new home of U.S. Spanish-language World Cup coverage for the next several years — fueled its transition to NBC Universo. In fact, the network’s official rebirth is concurrent with its U.S.-exclusive Spanish-language broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX. (NBC has the English-language rights.)

In particular, mun2 has seen considerable ratings and revenue success with telecasts of the Barclays Premier League, England’s top-level soccer league. Additionally, mun2 will air five National Football League games during the 2014 season.

But it is the audience growth and pending revenue bonanza tied to FIFA World Cup coverage set to air over the next several years that makes NBC Universo a draw before it even debuts. As NBC Universo, the network in 2015 will air the Men’s FIFA U-20 World Cup, with coverage from New Zealand, from May 30-June 20. Concurrently, the network will feature coverage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in Canada, from June 6-July 5. NBC Universo will then feature coverage from the FIFA U-17 World Cup, to be held in Chile from Oct. 17-Nov. 8.

NBC Universo will also serve as the exclusive Spanish-language U.S. home to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series; and Spanish versions of the popular World Wrestling Entertainment programs WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown.

“Mun2 is now clearly well positioned to better serve its stakeholders across all its platforms,” NBCU chairman of Hispanic enterprises and content Joe Uva said. “The network’s transformation into a high-demand cable network is one of our company’s top priorities.”

To accomplish this, a shift to “Telemundo Deportes” was not made; such a move would have put NBCUniverso in a crowded marketplace with ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes, beIN SPORT, Univision and Gol TV, in addition to niche networks imported from countries across Latin America.

Instead, NBC Universo will have an entertainment component — using a formula that has proven successful for Galavisión.

Staying on the programming grid for NBC Universo is the reality show A Toda Gloria, which follows the daily activities of Mexican pop star Gloria Trevi; Larrymania, a reality show featuring popular entertainer Larry Hernandez; and Fugitivos de la Ley, a true-life bounty hunter show.

It’s not yet known which mun2 shows will be getting the axe following its transformation to NBC Universo; specific programming details are slated to be released in early 2015, the network announced.

Mun2 was born out of the former Latina-focused basic-cable network GEMS Television, which originally launched in 1993.