Univision: King of the hillTop Spanish-language network is also nation's fifth-biggest broadcast net 9/22/2002 08:00:00 PM Eastern
In the Hispanic-television
market, Univision is king of the hill. Unlike the general market, where two or three or even four networks can compete, in this country's 9.7 million Hispanic television homes, Univision commands about 70% of viewership.
Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster and fifth-largest U.S. broadcast network, schedules a dizzying array of program genres. The sheer variety helps attract and maintain the bulk of Hispanics viewing Spanish-language TV. Univision's household ratings outperform its closest competitor, Telemundo, 3 to 1, according to Nielsen Media Research.
"When you have such an enormous lead," said Roy Rothstein, research chief for media buyer Zenith Media, "it's hard to imagine anyone being able to overcome that."
Even so, with NBC as Telemundo's new owner, that dominance is being challenged.
Univision dedicates the largest portion of its schedule, notably in prime time, to novelas, the most popular programming genre. In the second quarter of 2002, novelas
accounted for 29% of its programming.
The allure of novelas, Univision President and COO Ray Rodriguez explains, is that there is something for every Hispanic. "There are different genres. There are historical novelas
like Roots. Others are dramatic like Dallas
or [young-skewing] like Beverly Hills 90210, and some are like Sesame Street."
On Univision, talk and variety shows account for 15% and news programs 14% of the schedule. Sports, children's shows, game shows, variety and movies are sprinkled in, claiming about 5% of airtime.
Much of the schedule is fueled by acquisitions from Latin America. The licensed fare is sometimes knocked as a cheap way to program Univision, but observers say the quality of imported programming has improved in recent years.
"It gets a negative reputation as second-class programming, but people have bad memories of what it looked like 10 years ago," said Monica Gadsby, manager director for Tapestry, the multicultural unit of Starcom MediaVest.
In recent years, Univision has stepped up its original production. Network execs say that 50% of the schedule is produced in-house, including its first U.S.-produced novelaTe Amore in Silencio, slated to air this season. New comedy Playa Tropical
is also being produced for a first run on Univision.
The originals are risky because, unlike acquired shows, they are untested. "We aren't buying it already done," Rodriguez pointed out.
Univision doesn't have a preference for originals, he adds. "We don't care where the hit comes from."
Last season, Univision boasted the top 20 shows for Hispanic viewers across all broadcast services. The highest-rated non-Spanish program is UPN's WWE Smackdown!, ranking 44th, according to Initiative Media analysis of Nielsen data.
While Telemundo experiments with new programming genres, Univision's strategy seems to be to keep with what is proven. "There's no spin, no promises of sexy new partners," Rodriguez said earlier this year, comparing Univision with Telemundo and its new corporate parent, NBC.
Trying to expand its Hispanic-market dominance, Univision last January invested about $1.5 billion to launch a sister broadcast network, Telefutura. The new net, which airs on 25 Univision-owned stations, is an alternative to its parent's programming and, of course, Telemundo's.
Telefutura's audience is steadily building and currently collects about 6% of Hispanic viewing shares. Where the viewers are coming from, though, is a hotly discussed topic in the Hispanic-TV industry.
"Univision has to be careful with how they program Telefutura. They don't want to compete with themselves," said Stacey Lynn Koerner, head of research for media buyer Initiative Media.
Univision doesn't see it that way. Telemundo does. "They are taking almost all of their ratings from their parent company," asserts Telemundo Director of Program Development Mimi Bell. "It hasn't changed our demos or our share."
Univision is also a player in the cable industry. Its Galavision network is popular with adults 18 to 49 years old, particularly women. There are also plans to launch five digital networks by the end of the year: a Hispanic movie service, a classic movie channel and three lifestyle channels.
This season, Univision will offer a slate of fresh novelas
and new shows to maintain its viewership. New dramas include teenage love story El Juego de la Vida, family-oriented El Manantial
, billed as a modern Romeo and Juliet
, and adult drama Entre el Amor y el Odio.
Lighter fare dominates weekends, highlighted by its long-running Sábado Gigante
with its outrageous host Don Francisco. This season, the network will add the two-hour game show Quien Dijo Miedo.
In 1992, when Nielsen Media Research began rating Hispanic viewing, only seven of the top 25 shows viewed by Hispanics were on Spanish-language services (Univision claimed six, Telemundo one). Back then, "the Spanish-language programming wasn't very good," Rodriguez concedes.
A decade later, Univision claimed 23 out of the top 25, with only the Super Bowl and Game 7 of the World Series slipping in.
In the 2001-02 TV season, Univision boasted the top 20 prime time shows among Hispanic viewers on both Spanish- and English-language broadcast networks
|Univision's hit parade|
Source: Initiative Media analysis of Nielsen Media Research data
Media Research data
|1||Amigas y Rivales (Tues)||28.0|
|2||Amigas y Rivales (Mon)||27.9|
|3||Amigas y Rivales (Wed)||27.3|
|4||Amigas y Rivales (Thur)||27.0|
|5||Por Un Beso (Wed)||26.4|
|6||Por Un Beso (Thur)||26.2|
|7||Amigas y Rivales (Fri)||25.9|
|8||Por Un Beso (Tue)||25.7|
|9||Por Un Beso (Fri)||25.4|
|10||Por Un Beso (Mon)||25.3|
|11||Derecho de Nacer (Mon)||24.6|
|12||Derecho de Nacer (Tues)||24.5|
|13||Derecho de Nacer (Wed)||24.1|
|15||Derecho de Nacer (Fri)||23.6|
|19||Derecho de Nacer (Thur)||23.1|