For Telemundo COO, EvolutionIs Key to Hispanic Growth

Jacqueline Hernandez, who has been chief operating officer for Telemundo Media since 2008, might as well add “jack of all trades” to her job title. Besides her current role in the television business,Hernandez boasts experience in both print and online, working domestically and internationally.

“They’re different, but they’re all the same,” Hernandez said. “Whether you’re creating content, stories or advertising campaigns, you’re there to entertain and connect.”

Hernandez touts Telemundo as the fastestgrowing Spanish-language broadcast network, and boasts of cable net mun2’s big numbers in the youth market (specifically, the 18-34 demo). The company’s largest growth, however, is in the digital space. “The numbers are growing, the audiences are growing,” she said, pointing to doubledigit growth with both unique visitors and video streams. “More and more consumers are consuming more and more on every single platform.”

It’s not only about getting people viewing your website, it’s how long they stay there, said Hernandez. And both counts are working: Hernandez notes had more minutesper- viewers in February than any other TV site. “We have a lot of momentum as a company; both of our brands are growing very quickly.”

Growing also means evolving, which Telemundo did last December, undergoing a rebrand that Hernandez calls a “big moment” for the network. “I’m very proud of it. We worked very hard across not only the marketing team, but the whole company,” she said of the yearlong process.

“The realization of Telemundo’s rebrand, the ‘Power of T,’ is a testament to the power of Jackie,” said Emilio Romano, Telemundo Media president. “With her leadership, the team has created awardwinning innovations that have had a tremendous impact for our clients, fueled Telemundo Media’s growth and positioned us for future success.”

The rebrand got off to a good start, with January having been mighty good to Telemundo. “January ended up being one of our best [months] ever,” Hernandez said. The curve has headed uphill ever since: In Q1, Telemundo had a 7% increase in primetime audience.

So with upfronts right around the corner, Hernandez is looking to keep the early-2013 momentum charging forward. One key component is Telemundo’s new singing competition, La VozKids, a Spanish-language version of NBCUniversal sibling NBC’s popular The Voice that Hernandez said is a big marketing focus for the network.

“Music is a huge passion point with Hispanics,” said Hernandez, who called The Voice “such a huge, enormous, worldwide phenomenon.” But she revels in “the whole kids and aspiration [aspect]” of La Voz Kids.

Much like The Voice, La Voz Kids will have four “coaches.” Telemundo recently added Bronx-born singer/songwriter and Latin Grammy nominee Prince Royce as a coach, to go along with Mexican singing star Paulina Rubio.

The other big programming push for Telemundo is the novela El Señor de los Cielos (The Lord of Heaven), which Hernandez described as “one of our most ambitious novelas and original productions that we’ve done.”

Hernandez knows you could probably copyright the phrase “the Hispanic market is the largest-growing demographic in the country,” and she doesn’t see it slowing anytime soon. “It’s a large demographic shift that’s already happened in the country,” she said.

In fact, with the latest census projections showing continued strong growth in the future, it’s the dynamics of the market that will be changing. “It’s not so much that the market will get smaller,” said Hernandez. “It’s that the country and the fabric of who we are as a Hispanic segment will continue to evolve over time.” She noted how she has met people who are “half-Jewish and half-Cuban.”

For years U.S. Hispanic TV viewers had a Coke vs. Pepsi-like choice in Hispanic networks, with Univision and Telemundo the only players. Last summer, Fox International Channels launched a third option with MundoFox.

Competition aside, Hernandez sees MundoFox as another sign that the Hispanic market isn’t going anywhere but up. “It reaffirms that there is a big appetite for these consumers,” she said. “We’d love to see the whole marketplace grow.”

Ties to the global breadth of the marketplace were always a big part of Hernandez’s life, going back to her days growing up in New York as the daughter of parents from Spain.

And it’s not a stretch to argue that home life led the bilingual Hernandez away from one early career ambition—to be a lawyer—and back to something closer to her heart.

In college, despite the knee-jerk idea of pursuing law, she kept gravitating toward advertising, marketing and art. And then a conversation with her father during one of a summer break convinced her to move away from a safer choice and follow her passion. “That’s how it all started for me,” Hernandez said.

Her first two jobs were writing for the Boston Globe and The Village Voice, before transitioning to Time Inc., where she held a variety of positions, most notably as publisher of People en Español (she pulled double-duty in 2006, also serving as publisher of TeenPeople). Hernandez joined Telemundo in 2008 and has not looked back.

In fact, her forward-thinking moves and ideas have led to much distinction in a 20-year career. In 2011 she was named one of B&C’s “Next Wave of Leaders,” and last month she was honored as one of Multichannel News’ “Wonder Women.”

Hernandez sits on the board of the Advertising Education Foundation and the Ballet Hispanico. She is also on the council advisory board of the New York Restoration Project and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Latin Media and Entertainment Commission.

Hernandez was also instrumental in launching the sales initiative Hispanics@NBCU in 2011, the aim of which was to better connect marketers with the nation’s 50 million-plus Hispanic consumers who are responsible for more than $1.2 trillion in buying power.

Clearly, the multi-talented exec is in the right place at the right time. As the still enthralled Hernandez put it: “It’s exciting to be in the Hispanic market right now.”

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