Upfronts 2011: Univision Launching Three Networks Next Season

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Univision is set to announce that it will air close to 500 hours of "new original productions" in primetime and late night in 2011-2012, and will also launch a trio of networks dedicated to its breathless novelas, news, and sports.

The new arrivals include a primetime documentary program and a morning lifestyle show whose name may be familiar to morning TV watchers; it's called Hoy, which is Spanish for Today. The nearly 500 fresh hours represents an increase over the current season's original programming tally, said Univision's executives.

The Spanish language giant has expanded its relationship with the producer Televisa in launching the larger batch of original programming.

Speaking in advance of its upfront presentation at the New Amsterdam Theatre in Manhattan May 19, Univision brass said the 2010 Census results show just how much clout the media giant wields. David Lawenda, president of ad sales and marketing, likened the findings to the 1960 Census revealing the clout of another growing group in America. "The Baby Boomers changed everything-they truly redefined the marketplace," said Lawenda. "Fast forward 50 years, and it's all about Hispanics."

Randy Falco, Univision's executive VP and COO, referred to the Hispanic presence in the U.S. as "a New American Reality."

"Businesses looking to deliver growth need to establish and maintain a relationship with the fastest-growing consumer segment in our nation," he said. "Univision's close to 50 year relationship with Hispanics makes us one of the leading media brands in this country and the gateway to connect with this consumer."

Univision's debutante reality shows, Protagonistas and Pequeños Gigantes, are set in the entertainment industry. A new drama follows the lives of four federal officers and their dangerous line of work.

Four new novelas include Dos Hogares (Two Homes), about a woman reconnecting with a husband she thought was dead, and La Fuerza del Destino (The Power of Destiny), about a man on the run after being framed for a gangster's murder. Three of the four novelas are Televisa productions, and one is a joint Univision Studios-Venevision affair.

Univision also announced an awards show celebrating "individuals who have made an indelible mark in their quest to improve the lives of Hispanics in the United States," and a documentary series. Specials on Colombia's FARC military organization and dropout rates among Hispanic students are the first two doc's on the schedule.

Univision expands its Monday to Friday morning output to five hours with the 90 minute Hoy, which it describes as "pure entertainment" focusing on cooking, health and news. It's a customized version of Televisa's Hoy program that airs in Mexico.

Univision's dedicated networks making debuts in 2012 are entitled Univision Deportes (sports), Univision 24/7 (news) and Univision TL Novelas (telenovelas).

Univision presents its slate without Joe Uva, who stepped down as CEO in early April. Falco, Univision Networks President Cesar Conde and Lawenda host the stage presentation. Conde said Univision's strategy covers all media platforms.

"Recognizing the power of the burgeoning Hispanic consumer base, Univision is investing in expanding our content across all media platforms with both traditional distributors as well as online and mobile video providers," he said.

Sister network TeleFutura launches three new dramas and the late night offering Noche de Perros (Guys' Night Out). Sister Galavision adds a drama, a reality show, and a documentary.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.