Univision's ad sales chief Keith Turner has a message for the English-language broadcast networks as the upfront selling period for the 2015-16 TV season approaches: “We’re not going to wait in the car until they finish selling.”
Instead Turner and his sales team are going to go directly after English-language network ad dollars from the get go by pointing out why Univision should be getting a larger share of the broadcast marketing pie.
“We will be selling the value of our audience vs. the English-language networks,” Turner says. “We’ll tell advertisers that 92% of the viewing on our network is live compared to somewhere in the mid-50% range for the English-language networks. And we’ll tell them that 76% of our audience can’t be reached any other way.”
And while Turner acknowledges that there still are many brands that advertise on the English-language networks that aren’t yet on board with Univision, he says that becomes a major opportunity for the network in this year’s upfront.
With TV ad sales becoming more of a year around proposition, Univision enters the upfront with lots of momentum. In the fourth quarter alone, the network activated three luxury brand automakers for the first time—Audi, BMW and Mercedes. And during the first three months of 2015, Univision has signed up 52 new brands across various categories.
Not to be outdone, Telemundo is also planning to go into the upfront marketplace aggressively, introducing the NBCUniversal “Hispanic Plus” program that will allow advertisers the opportunity to not only reach Hispanic-speaking consumers on its own air, but Hispanics watching TV and using digital and other platforms on all of NBCU’s English-language networks (See story on page TK).
“The Hispanic marketplace still has tremendous room for growth,” says Mike Rosen, executive VP, NBCU Hispanic Group Advertising Sales. “There are hundreds of advertisers active in English language television that still do not have a dedicated Hispanic ad effort. Given the economic power of Hispanics, along with their cultural and political influence in this country, it’s still a little bit mind boggling that there are so many advertisers that haven’t enhanced their market spending with Hispanic ad schedules.”
Telemundo and Univision have performed well with their primetime programming this season with total viewer numbers and 18-49 ratings numbers about flat with last season. Univision is averaging the same 1.1 18-49 demo rating as it was last season heading into the upfront and its 2.8 million viewer average is down just about 100,000. Telemundo is averaging almost the identical 0.5 demo rating and 1.25 million viewers. And in this current TV landscape, flat is good.
Univision is still bringing in mass Hispanic audiences with its primetime novellas. At 8 p.m., Mi Corazon Es Tuyo averaged 3.3 mlllion viewers and 1.4 in the 18-49 demo, while at 9 p.m. Hasta El Fin Del Mundo averaged a similar 3.3 million viewers with a 1.3 in the demo.
For its part, Telemundo has had great success with its primetime “Super Series” at 10 p.m. Its most recent El Senor del los Cielos, now in its third season, is averaging 2.4 million viewers, after drawing 3.2 million to its season 2 finale.
“Telemundo has shown more strength in primetime this season,” says Joe Zubi, CEO of Miami-based Zubi Advertising. “But Univision still gets the largest share of the ratings and from an eyeball perspective continues to reach more Hispanic audience than any of the Hispanic or English-language networks.”
Lia Silkworth, executive VP, media director for Tapestry, a division of SMG Multicultural, agrees that Univision is still the network to go to for Hispanic audience at scale, but says the Hispanic marketplace is changing and scale is not the only thing that matters to marketers. “It’s more about creating an interaction and engagement between brands and the consumers. Sometimes lower rated shows have better buzz.”
Silkworth says while Hispanic TV advertising will still be important for marketers in this year’s upfront, the networks need to be getting ready for the future by continuing to offer both social media and mobile strategies.
Zubi agrees saying every Hispanic network needs to have a mobile strategy in this year’s upfront. “Marketers wanting to reach Hispanics need to have mobile options from the TV networks. Brands need to have a strong digital presence and we will be paying a lot of attention to mobile offerings. There is not a Hispanic upfront client that will not want a mobile component included in their buys. As a culture, the current millennial generation of Hispanics seem to have skipped over desktop and are embracing mobile. For many Hispanics, mobile is their computer.”
Univision’s Turner is aware that “marketers are challenging us for new approaches and digital is a major part of that.” He adds, “Our goal is to include a digital component in every deal we do.”
Zubi believes while the way the deals are structured across different platforms may vary more than in the past in this upfront, spending will still be up for the Hispanic networks. “I think dollar volume for the Hispanic networks overall will grow because there is still a lot of upside potential to Spanish-language networks.”
Zubi says his agency, which represents clients such as Ford, Chase and Dunkin Donuts for Spanish-language ad buying, plans to work closer together with the general market agencies that represent those clients. He believes that will quicken the pace of negotiations and will also result in a more efficient spending of each client’s overall ad dollars.
“We plan to work with Team Detroit [the WPP agency that handles general market advertising for Ford] to determine how to best allocate our Hispanic ad dollars for the client,” Zubi says. “I think across the board there will be more collaboration between general market agencies and Hispanic media agencies to be more creative with their buys.”
As for the English-language networks putting more programming with Hispanic themes or characters, Zubi and Silkworth say they will be monitoring that.
“There seems to be more diversity at the English-language networks as far as what they are developing in their pipelines, but you don’t really know what is going to make it on to their schedules,” Silkworth says. “ABC will continue to get interest if it continues to put on shows targeting Hispanics but it can’t just be a random show.”
Zubi adds that the networks have to be careful with their comedies and how they portray Hispanics. “There’s a fine line between being able to laugh at yourself or becoming offended. Too many stereotype characters and situations in a comedy targeting Hispanic viewers is not going to be well received.”
The smaller Hispanic networks are also expected to continue to get their share of Hispanic ad dollars.
“You always want to have a variety of options,” Zubi says. “The smaller Hispanic networks each reach a slice of the overall audience and spending will be in line with the size audience they each reach.”
Among those smaller Hispanic networks with a good story to tell are Discovery en Espanol and Discovery Familia. Discovery en Espanol grew its viewership by 2% in 2014, while Discovery Familia, albeit off a smaller audience base, grew its 18-49 viewership by 23%.
Victor Parada, VP of ad sales for Discovery Communications U.S. Hispanic Group, says because the audience reach of the two networks is smaller, in order to compete with Univision and Telemundo for Hispanic market ad dollars, his sales team has to stress the uniqueness of programming.
Discovery en Espanol offers human adventure-type programming the targets a more male 18-49 audience, with men making up about 60% of viewership. Discovery Famiglia is more female targeted and airs mostly lifestyle type programming.
“Our upfront conversations will be with everyone,” Parada says, “and we will begin selling as soon as we can. We can’t wait for a pecking order.”
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