Telemundo's UpfrontIs Broadway Bound

The marquee at Broadway’s Al Hirschfeld Theater in midtown Manhattan is touting the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Come May, media buyers and advertisers will see a different kind of show at the theater, pushing the idea of how their businesses can succeed with the help of Telemundo Media.

Telemundo COO Jacqueline Hernandez says the May 15 presentation will use the theme “Brave New Telemundo Media” and tell a story of growth, both in the increase of prominence of Spanish-language media and marketing, and the expansion of Telemundo as part of NBCUniversal.

While still far behind Hispanic leader Univision, Telemundo, says Hernandez, is closing the gap. So far this year, the network has grown its share by 5% among total viewers in both primetime (now a 24% share) and total day (30%).

“We’re living in a brave new world,” Hernandez says. “The demographics speak for themselves. The marketplace is growing. It’s exploding. Then within that, in our world, Telemundo is just on fire. Telemundo is growing very consistently.”

It’s also a brave new world for the network, which has new corporate ownership. “We have Comcast and NBCU really backing us up now. They are making investments. They understand the importance of investing and doubling down on Telemundo and the Hispanic market,” Hernandez adds.

The investments are in programming, such as the purchase of the Spanish-language rights to soccer’s World Cup. That won’t kick off till 2015, but at this year’s upfront, Telemundo will be rolling out new formats and genres in entertainment and alternative programming to go along with its familiar novelas.

There are also investments in people and research to help maximize and measure how Hispanic marketing performs.

“For the past year, Telemundo has had significant ratings growth with the telenovelas they’ve been producing,” says Lillian Roman, senior partner and associate director for national broadcast at media agency MEC. One new novela, Corazon Valiente, has given Telemundo a foothold in the 9 p.m. hour dominated by Univision. Both networks should be considered by marketers looking to reach the Hispanic market, she says.

While Roman hasn’t yet been briefed on Telemundo’s programming plans for next season, she says its pitches have changed to a more 360-degree approach, with research and digital executives joining its salespeople. “It’s more comprehensive. That’s good,” she says.

For the upfront, Roman says it’s unclear if marketers will be increasing budgets. “What’s interesting is the landscape change,” she says, with Univision starting a new cable network and Fox International launching its own Spanish-language channel. Networks are also producing more programming in the U.S., she adds. “That’s a big coup for the market and for advertisers.”

Telemundo’s Hernandez says she expects spending on Spanish-language TV to grow because of Hispanic consumers’ increased spending power. And for advertisers looking to reach Spanish-speaking consumers, they want it noted that No. 2 is trying harder.

“You want to be with the winner, you want to be with who’s going to grow, and we’re growing,” she says. “But we’re all about, as we grow, we want to grow our partners’ business and we want to do it in creative ways that are going to connect and hook and capture the hearts of consumers.”

Telemundo’s share of ad dollars tends to be higher than its share of audience.

“It’s because of what we do. It goes way beyond just selling advertisers viewers. It’s the integrations that we do,” Hernandez says. Now that Telemundo is producing more of its content, it can do product placement and more.

“We take it to another level,” Hernandez says. “[Products] become a part of the story line, and we bring them into what we do. We welcome them creating original content with our advertisers. In some cases we will even coproduce spots or do things that are really out of the box. They feel like interstitials that have the advertiser and our own talent and our own novela stories woven in.”

This week, Telemundo is hosting advertisers in its studio in Miami. “They meet our producers and our programmers and we talk about what their objectives are and what they’re looking to do to reach the same consumers we’re looking to reach,” Hernandez says. “We brainstorm and we come up with different ways to be able to deliver that. And on top of it all, we also invest in the research tools to be able to measure what the engagement is and what the results are. And across the board, they over-index and show higher awareness and higher viewer engagement. And that’s what leads to the revenue.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.