Univision's Rodriguez Looks for Love With tlnovelas

As millions celebrated Valentine's Day Feb. 14, Univision began
its official countdown to the launch of its tlnovela channel -- set for a Feb.
29 debut on satellite-TV provider Dish Network -- with a series of romantic
promos. Hispanic TV Update caught up
with Jessica Rodriguez, senior vice president of Univision Cable Networks, to
talk about the upcoming launch. An edited excerpt of an interview in English,
Spanish and Spanglish follows:

MCN: So, tlnovelas is
launching Feb. 29. Where is it going to be available?

Jessica Rodriguez: We
are initially launching only on the Dish Latino platform. We have a very solid
relationship with them. Obviously, our team is working very hard in negotiating
carriage with other MSOs.

MCN: How many people
do you think you'll reach at launch?

JR: I'd say the
network will reach about 1 million Dish subscribers.

MCN: How are you
promoting it?

JR: We are
blanketing our media properties. Starting Feb. 14, we launched an official
countdown, and began promoting the channel on some of Univision Network's most
popular shows, including Despierta
and El Gordo y la Flaca.
We are pitching it under the tagline "Llega el amor de tu vida(The love of your life has arrived),"
and we're doing a lot of radio, too.

MCN: How many
telenovelas will there be available at launch?

JR: We are
launching with six blockbuster novelas, all from our partners at [Mexico's]
Grupo Televisa. We are going to launch with some classic titles, including Rosa Salvaje, Esmeralda and Niña Amada Mía.

MCN: Six novelas will
not fill a 24/7 network ...

JR: They will be
repeated throughout the day, four times each, and then on the weekends we'll
have special recaps.

MCN: Are there going
to be any commercial breaks?

JR: Of course.
And our intention is actually to sell the network specifically to those
sponsors who want to tie their products and services to the popular genre. We
also want to start doing short-form videos, and take viewers behind the scenes
and other additional content besides the novela itself.

MCN: Will you be
programming some of Univision's own productions, such as Eva Luna or Talismán?

JR: Yes. But we
will be programming them depending on what's on our other platforms. If a
specific telenovela is running on Hulu, for example, we will not be showcasing
it elsewhere. It will depend on what is playing elsewhere.

MCN: Why did you pick
Feb. 29 as a launch date?

JR: It's Sadie
Hawkins Day, the day girls ask boys out!

MCN: What are you telling the millions of Latino viewers who don't
have access to Dish?

JR: I'd ask them
to desperately call their provider and demand for them to carry tlnovelas!