Upfronts 2014: Univision Touts Transmedia ‘Influence’, Announces Cowell Program

Broad reach, digital-first studio, and exclusive Spanish language rights to U.S. men’s soccer

Upfront Central

Univision talked up its influence as it greeted the advertising community in New York May 13: Univision’s influence on Hispanics, Hispanics’ influence on other Hispanics, and the Hispanic community’s influence on the U.S., says the Spanish language media giant. Showing how vast its influence is, Simon Cowell was brought out to talk about his new reality show La Banda, which Cowell - in his trademark white T-shirt and jeans - said could’ve only aired on Univision. The show, centered around a search for "the ultimate Latino boy band," airs in 2015. “We’re going to make 2015 a very special event,” Cowell said.

Before Univision introduced Simon, Steve Mandala, executive VP of sales, kicked off the proceedings at the Hirschfeld Theater with a little song and dance of his own, fronting a bevy of dancers as he delivered a rap titled “Talk Spanish to Me” before copping to “complete self humiliation.”

Other Univision executives taking the stage included Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president of Univision Deportes; Tonia O’Connor, president of content distribution; Isaac Lee, president of news; and Alberto Ciurana, president of programming.

Rodriguez mentioned a package involving MLS soccer until 2022, and saluted U.S. star Clint Dempsey in the audience, calling him “a nightmare” for the Mexican team. Univision Deportes will have exclusive Spanish language rights for the U.S. men’s home soccer matches for the next eight years, and exclusive rights to the first Copa America Centenario in 2016.

O’Connor unveiled the video site Flama (TheFlama.com), describing the site as “focused on this mobile-first generation.”

Lee announced four quarterly investigative specials on UniMas called Entre Lineas, citing “the kinds of stories not usually told about our country and our culture.” Lee also saluted Ben Sherwood, head of ABC News, which partners with Univision on the news channel Fusion.

Ciurana introduced a batch of new dramas for both UniMas and Univision, including La Gata and Hasta El Fin Del Mundo, the latter about a sultry chocolatier; while Mi Corazon Es Tuyo - about a single father of seven - and La Malquerida arrive later in the season.

The Univision upfront presentation always ends with a bang, and Carlos Santana was brought out to end things on a musical note.

Univision’s multiplatform might comes from 16 broadcast, cable and digital networks and 130 TV and radio stations. It also announced a digital-first production studio, La Fabrica UCI.

“Univision is the one company that can offer advertisers the transmedia solutions to engage deeply with Hispanic consumers and build the lasting relationships that will move the needle for their brands,” said Randy Falco (pictured), president and CEO of Univision Communications. “We are Hispanic America’s most trusted media source and are everywhere our audience is.”