Telemundo’s L.A. News Investment Pays Off

Dirty Dancing was the surprise hit in the movie theaters, while songs from U2’s The Joshua Tree dominated the FM airwaves across the Southland.

The year was 1987 — which marked the last time Telemundo’s Los Angeles O&O, KVEA, defeated its longtime rival, Univision O&O KMEX, with its 11 p.m. newscast.

Until now.

In a historic feat, KVEA’s Noticiero Telemundo 52 was the most-watched local program in the all-important adults 18-49 demographic in the month of September, according to Nielsen. The 30-minute program averaged a 1.4 rating (or 107,000 impressions) in the demo, and averaged a 36% audience share among all other Spanish-language stations in the Los Angeles DMA in the time frame.

That puts KVEA ahead of not only KMEX, but four other Spanish-language TV stations. More notably, KVEA is now attracting more viewers aged 18-49 than the local newscasts of the Big Three’s O&Os  — KABC-TV, KCBS-TV and NBCUniversal sister station KNBC. It’s also beating out programming on Fox O&O KTTV and MyNetwork affiliate KCOP; Tribune Co.-owned The CW affiliate KTLA; and CBS’s news-intensive independent KCAL. 

“Securing the No. 1 spot in our market for this key demographic at 11 p.m., and — regardless of language — for the first time in 27 years, confirms that we are delivering our viewers the local news and information they want,” Celia Chavez, president and general manager of KVEA, said in a statement. “We have a dynamic news team that works passionately to provide our viewers with the information they need, and we will continue to deliver live, local breaking news and aggressive weather coverage for the communities we serve.”

KVEA’s 11 p.m. local newscast is anchored by Ana Patricia Candiani, a veteran reporter who returned to Telemundo in 2011 after an eight-year stint anchoring the network’s national primetime newscast — she stepped away in 2008 — as well as several other Telemundo news programs. Her experience includes roles as a morning news anchor for former Spanish news/talk radio network Radio Unica, as a news anchor for the now-defunct Spanish-language network CBS Telenoticias and as a programming supervisor for 20 radio stations in Mexico owned by Grupo Acir.

Candiani’s co-anchor at 11 p.m. is Edgar Muñoz, who joined KVEA in March after serving as a Mexico-based correspondent for Univision. He anchored Hechos, the primetime local newscast for KAZA, the Azteca América flagship station in Los Angeles, from 2003 to 2005.

KVEA’s ratings triumph is the culmination of a series of enhancements in 2013 and 2014 that included a new studio, a new graphics package and increased investigative reporting on a wide range of news stories. The station also moved its weekend newscast to 5:30 p.m. from 6 p.m., part of a network-wide scheduling mandate.

While Nielsen data is not available for KVEA’s weekend newscasts, indications are they’ve been successful: As of Nov. 3, the 5:30pm newscast will now air seven days a week, the network confirms. It’s part of a rollout of 30-minute local newscasts airing at 5:30pm ET/PT and 4:30pm CT/MT at  Telemundo stations in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, San Francisco and Tucson. Thirty additional staffers were added across 14 stations to boost the telecasts.

“This announcement marks a new era for the Telemundo Station Group and Spanish-language news,” Manuel Martinez, president of Telemundo Station Group, said. “All of our stations have a commitment to deliver the best local breaking news and weather to our viewers and this expansion will help us deliver the type of news coverage our viewers demand and deserve.”

As reported in the August edition of Hispanic Television Update, Telemundo has perhaps been the most aggressive player in news this year. Among the many changes: O&O KSTS in San Francisco now provides the only locally focused Spanish-language newscast airing before noon. In July, Telemundo announced that Las Vegas station KBLR would produce its 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts live and locally. In late August, respected author and journalist Mirta Ojito returned from New York to Miami for the newly created role of director of news standards.

In its most recent moves, Telemundo O&O WSNS in Chicago has paired longtime Univision reporter Anabel Monge with current anchor Alfonso Gutierrez for its weekday 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts. Monge was previously an anchor and general assignment reporter at KWEX in San Antonio, and has worked at Univision stations in Sacramento and Fresno.