Q&A: Univision Growth Goes Beyond Primetime

The success seen by the Univision network in primetime in its key demographic of adults 18-34 has been well-documented for years. Thanks to its access to Televisa’s stable of star-powered telenovelas, Univision earned a 1.3 rating and a 4 share for its primetime slate for the week ending Oct. 6, drawing 1.63 million viewers, according to Nielsen. By comparison, No. 2 Spanish-language network Telemundo earned a 0.4/1, attracting 530,000 viewers.
But Univision’s long-running Saturday-night variety show, Sabado Gigante, continues to pack a punch — outdrawing rival Telemundo and sibling network UniMás combined. What’s more, viewership for Univision’s weekday morning show, Despierta América, has surged. In an exclusive interview with Hispanic Television Update contributor Adam Jacobson, Univision Communications president of programming and content Alberto Ciurana discusses the current success of these non-novela draws.

Multichannel News: Sabado Gigante continues to draw significant numbers of viewers after all of these years. But is the audience aging? Is there any concern that a younger audience may not tune in to Don Francisco and his brand of entertainment? Or is this concern unfounded?
Alberto Ciurana:
Sabado Gigante continues to be a show that brings families and generations together. The content is relevant, is always being refreshed and allows for audiences to connect with friends and families every Saturday. Remember, families increasingly want their next generations to be bilingual. Spanish is what connects our community and culturally relevant content is what truly reaches our audience’s hearts — and Sabado Gigante is tradition.
For more than 50 years [in Chile], Sabado Gigante has grown along with the Hispanic community and that binds us to our audience. We have evolved together and we continue to evolve to be where they want to be and Don Francisco is part of the U.S. Hispanic story in this country. [Sabado Gigante has been based in the U.S. since April 1986 and pre-dates Univision. Upon its move from Chile, it became a foundation of Univision predecessor Spanish International Network, SIN.]

MCN: What can you say about the continued dominance of Univision in mornings with Despierta América? What makes the show so powerful and its competitors struggle to gain traction with an alternative?
Despierta América today is the fastest-growing morning show in the country, with growth ahead of ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning. The show averages 839,000 viewers—up 21% from a year ago.
We are extremely proud of the team at Despierta América; it has found a winning recipe in the best hosts on morning television, energetic segments and special guest visits. They also are doing things differently. The morning celebration as of late has included A-list stars such as Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Matt Damon and Chris Bosh.
Our growth during a very competitive time period can be attributed to our connection with the viewers and being culturally relevant with our audience — delivering the kind of information and entertainment that Hispanics want.

MCN: How is UniMás performing 11 months since its evolution from TeleFutura?
UniMás targets males between the ages of 18 and 35, broadcasting dramatic series, sports including soccer and Formula 1, and feature films. We know this formula is working  —just look at our ratings this past Friday [Oct. 11]. Our coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match featuring a victorious Mexico versus Panama reached 7.3 million viewers 2-plus who tuned in to watch all or part of the telecast. The Mexico-Panama match outdelivered the Major League Baseball playoffs, NCAA college football and NFL telecasts among adults 18-49.

MCN: Any update on the highly anticipated debut of El Rey Network?
AC: As part of the announcement regarding Univision’s agreement with Time Warner Cable, we announced that TWC will be among the first distributors to carry the El Rey Network. El Rey is launching at the end of 2013, and you will be hearing much more about this new endeavor soon.