Upfronts 2013: Telemundo Pitches Power of Homegrown Programming

Owning content enables innovation and integrated opportunities

Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2013

A year ago, Mike Rosen was the top buyer for media agency Starcom, and he made a big early upfront deal with Univision.

This year, Rosen is executive VP for ad sales at Telemundo, Univision's chief rival in the Hispanic television market, and a week before leading his first upfront presentation, he's busy touting Telemundo's homegrown original programming.

Telemundo's upfront will take place under its "The Power of T" banner and will emphasize four pillars: investment, content, growth and innovation.

Comcast's NBCUniversal, Telemundo's parent, has been investing in programming and production values to create a great environment for viewers and advertisers, Rosen says-not to mention the plan to access greater gains in the Hispanic space.

Ten years ago, Telemundo execs decided that the network's best strategic play would be to become the No. 1 producer of original Spanish-language primetime content in the U.S. They have stuck to that strategy and it's paying off, Rosen says.

"What we wanted was product that was specifically designed for the U.S Hispanic experience because that's not only what the viewers want, but it's also the best way that marketers can talk to those consumers in highly relevant ways," he says. "We're big believers in the power of contextual and cultural relevance."

Owning intellectual property and being a content creator makes it easier for Telemundo to build integrated opportunities for advertisers. That's important "in a world where marketers want a whole lot more than simply airing 30-second spots," Rosen says. "They want fully baked, fully realized, multiplatform, multichannel, paid, earned and shared content."

The investment and content has created growth for Telemundo, which is always attractive to media buyers. After experiencing its best year ever in 2012, this year has started out like "gangbusters," Rosen says. "We keep setting and then breaking our own records," he adds, pointing to one recent Friday when Telemundo's novela El Señor de los Cielos was the top show in its time period for all of television, regardless of language.

In terms of innovation, last year Telemundo created what it calls a social novela. Episodes of Secreteando originated on Facebook and were shared and commented on via Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. The program was sponsored by Trident gum-a Starcom MediaVest client. A second season is now in the works.

Telemundo is also working with NBCU's Fandango movie news and ticket site to create Fandango Cine, which is specifically designed for the Hispanic moviegoer. Hispanics are 16% of the U.S. population, yet they represent 25% of moviegoers, creating an opportunity to build marketing solutions for studios. Telemundo's cable network Mun2 will air a weekly Fandango Cine show.

Rosen says it's too early to predict how strong upfront volume will be this year. But he says "the momentum we're showing and the business results we're driving for our clients make us feel as optimistic as you can about your position in the marketplace," he says.

Now on the other side of the negotiating table, Rosen feels he's still doing some of the things he did on the agency side. The key to success, he says, is to "create solutions for clients to help them drive their business."

Will he be able to persuade his old colleagues at Starcom to do a big early market deal with Telemundo this year? "No comment," Rosen says. "The transactions will come when it's the right time. We're always open for business."