Presidents are famously judged on what they can accomplish in their first 100 days in office, and as MundoFox approaches its own 100-day mark, it has plenty to feel good about. The News Corp.-owned Spanish-language broadcast network, which launched in August with distribution in 75% of U.S. Hispanic households, now already has three primetime series gaining traction—a Spanish version of Minute to Win It called Minuto Para Ganar and two action dramas, El Capo and Corazones Blindados. And the network will be Nielsen-rated beginning Oct. 29. On the eve of that milestone, Fox International Channels CEO Hernan Lopez and MundoFox president Emiliano Saccone spoke with B&C programming editor Andrea Morabito about ratings expectations and cracking a Spanish-language TV market dominated by Univision and Telemundo. An edited transcript follows.
How do you feel MundoFox is doing so far?
Hernan Lopez: We feel very good about what we’ve accomplished in only 90 days. This is the first time that a network has launched with only one ownedand- operated station, and we have already been able to secure a great lineup of affiliates, we have been able to secure the confidence of key advertisers, we have been able to launch in new MVPDs. We have been able to establish already three television series in the minds of consumers. The viewers that are finding the channel are saying great things about it in surveys that we are conducting. So overall, we feel really, really well.
Your strategy from the beginning was to be different than Univision and Telemundo, which rely heavily on telenovelas in their primetime schedules. What have you learned about your programming strategy so far, in terms of what is working?
Lopez: The most encouraging thing is that so far, awareness of the channel is about 50% of U.S. Hispanic homes. And of the people that are aware of it, still two-thirds only have tried it. So there’s a lot of upside in people who either haven’t heard of or haven’t tried the channel. But [of] the people who have tried the channel, more than half say it’s already better than other Spanish-language networks that they typically watch, or the best Spanish network on television right now. That is extremely encouraging for a network that has been on-air for 90 days. In particular, they like our newscast. We asked them specifically when they watched the newscast how they compare it to other ones that they typically watch, and three out of five say that it’s either better or the best newscast in Spanish-language television right now.
MundoFox launched into a landscape where Univision has a 73% market share and Telemundo has 21%. The Hispanic audience is also very loyal; 93% watch primetime telenovelas live. How do you change this demographic’s viewing habits?
Emiliano Saccone: The short answer is time; time is a big part in all this. We’ve seen that across every network here in the U.S. But it also takes sticking to a very differentiated programming offering, which we’re willing to do, and it’s part of our DNA. And just like Hernan was mentioning, already what 50% of people who have watched our newscast think of it, the same goes for essentially the rest of our entertainment offerings. Not even 90 days after launch we already have clear signs that our value proposition is resonating with viewers.
Case in point, we knew we could expect things from El Capo, which is one of our signature series. That is at 9 p.m., [and it] has consistently remained as the second- or third-highest-rated Spanish-language series while often sometimes beating some of the Englishlanguage networks along the way. What we weren’t expecting was in addition to that one show, in such a short period of time, we would have more, such as Minute to Win It or Minuto Para Ganar, which is our original game show at 7 p.m. every day, produced by Shine, which is now neck-and-neck with the Telemundos and Telefuturas out there. In fact, as if that weren’t enough, [on Oct. 22] we premiered a new action series much in the style of Capo called Corazones Blindados [Armored Hearts], at 8 p.m. in between our game show at 7 p.m. and El Capo at 9 p.m., to great ratings.
Lopez: And to give you a sense of how quickly already awareness has grown, when we conducted these surveys through Ipsos [we did so] in five waves. And in the first wave, two months before launch, awareness was at 31% and the last wave it grew to 51%.
MundoFox will be Nielsen-rated starting on Oct. 29. What are your ratings expectations?
Lopez: Our national ratings are going to be modest because today a lot of our viewership is coming from the cities where we have good distribution and we’re in the good channel neighborhoods. We’re seeing good ratings in Los Angeles, in Dallas, in Phoenix, in Miami, in San Francisco. On a national basis we’re not going to see ratings that will make headlines, to be completely honest. But they are consistent with the expectations we had. The important thing for us is that we have been able to launch three series. And when those series get sampling, the viewers turn into the biggest advocates of the series and they talk to other viewers about the series. And that’s how you build awareness overall for a television brand.
ABC News and Univision are launching a new English-language Hispanic network in 2013. Do you see that as a competitor to MundoFox?
Saccone: We don’t see a network like that as direct competition, at least not in the short-term.
Is there anything that you’ve seen on another network recently that you would like on MundoFox in some version?
Saccone: The list is long. I think the way I would put it is everything that has high-quality standards, that has witty writing, high production value, has the potential to be part of MundoFox in Spanish. At our core, that’s what we’re all about.
E-mail comments to email@example.com and follow her on Twitter: @andreamorabito
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