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WAPA America Enjoying 'Early Fringe' Returns

WAPA America has only been nationally rated by Nielsen since late August, but the Hemisphere Media Group-owned cable network, operated by Puerto Rican broadcaster WAPA-TV, likes the early returns from early fringe.

The network, which counts some 5 million subscribers nationwide via deals with cable, satellite and satellite providers, has been scoring quite well with Spanish-language viewers and key demos from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

During that time period -- when WAPA America imports news hour Noticentro A Las Cinco and hybrid entertainment show Lo Se Todo (pictured) from the flagship station in Puerto Rico – the service has led Spanish-language cable networks in total audience, averaging 77,000 watchers from the start of the 2014-15 TV season through Nov. 30, according to Nielsen data.

That tops a group of services with much larger subscriber bases, including Univision Communications’ Galavision, which averaged 71,000 watchers, and sports proponents ESPN Deportes and Fox Deportes with 50,000 and 47,000 respectively. WAPA America also set the pace with 60,000 households.

Among persons 18 to 49, WAPA America averaged 27,000 of those watchers, which tied it with Fox Deportes, behind Galavision’s 40,000 and ESPN Deportes’ 32,000. The network placed second behind Galavision among the 25-to-54 set, with 31,000 of those viewers, compared to 34,000.

Doug Darfield, managing director of research and programming, said WAPA America was anticipating strong results because it had been monitoring Nielsen data for several months ahead of its actual Stateside launch with the measurement company. He also noted that the “Nielsen methodology deployed in Puerto Rico is the same that is used here in the United States.”

There was also good precedent from Puerto Rico, where Noticentro a las Cinco and Lo Se Todo, average 18 and 20 household ratings, respectively.

According to WAPA America, a similar pattern is in play in the U.S. with Lo Se Todo, outperforming Noticientro a las Cinco.

Hemisphere Media Group president Alan Sokol calls Lo Se Todo “a combination of late night television meets Entertainment Tonight meets TMZ. There’s a mix of entertainment, politics -- because Puerto Ricans love politics -- and man on the street sketches like Jimmy Kimmel or Fallon. The show is less than two-years-old. It hasn’t hit its peak yet.”

The executives said Lo Se Todo has appeal beyond Puerto Ricans, the second-largest Hispanic group in the U.S., drawing in other Spanish-language viewers.

WAPA America also has high hopes in the 8 p.m. hour, after launching Noticiero America, a 60-minute, weeknight newscast on Oct. 27. Produced by WAPA-TV in San Juan, the show has ties to news organization in the U.S. and other nations, placing a special emphasis on news from Puerto Rico, while also featuring stories of interest to various Hispanic groups across the U.S.

“It’s the only newscast at 8 p.m. Our audience loves news,” said Sokol.

Darfield said the shows are performing well throughout the top 10 Latino markets and, citing Rentrak data, noted “we’re getting some viewership in 50 TV markets.”

According to Rentrak, WAPA America’s top 10 markets are Philadelphia, New York, Tampa-Saint Petersburg-Sarasota, Orlando-Daytona Beach, Boston-Manchester, Hartford-New Haven, Springfield-Holyoke, Providence-New Bedford, Harrisburg-Lancaster and Miami-Fort Lauderdale.

With ratings just coming in, Sokol believes the data will open doors to advertisers next year during the upfront selling season. He said the network offers “a targeted, efficient alternate” to more traditional Spanish-language outlets, noting that Univision and Telemundo audiences skew toward Mexican-Americans.

In addition to WAPA America, Hemisphere Media Group also owns Spanish-language networks Cinelatino, Pasiones, Centroamerica TV and Television Dominica.