Univision Looks To Score With World Cup


Univision is looking to maintain its dominance in the Hispanic television market with the 2006 World Cup, the Latin Grammy Awards, five new novelas, and  new, in-house-produced late night and weekend shows.

The network, which last year took in 70% of the upfront’s overall $1.1 billion, told advertisers in New York Wednesday it expects more than 50 million viewers for its exclusive Spanish-language broadcast of the World Cup next year, which would be up by 50% over the 35 million viewers to the event four years ago.

Why predict that big a jump? Executives cited a 25% increase in the Hispanic audience since the last World Cup, plus the fact that the tournament is in Germany this year and can air during heavy viewing hours.

Univision will air more than 300 hours of World Cup coverage including highlights, news, and live coverage of all 64 matches of the June event.

The network also boasted during its new-schedule presentation of the acquisition last week of the Latin Grammy awards, which had aired on CBS. For the first time, the show will air in Spanish, bowing on Univision during the November sweeps. 

Univision said its recent legal spat with major content provider, Mexico’s Grupo Televisa, will not affect its programming slate, unveiling five new novelas for next season that all come from the broadcaster.

Under a 1992 sales agreement, Televisa said it would provide Univision with programming through 2017. Last week, Televisa sued for $1.5 million in back royalties and its chair, Emilio Azcarraga Jean, resigned from the Univision board.

Univision claims it overpaid Televisa $5.2 million in royalties.

The contract with Televisa, which currently provides Univision with around 85% of its prime time content, is “iron clad,” says Ray Rodriguez, President and Chief Operating Officer, Univision Communications. “When you make an agreement that lasts 25 years, the lawyers structure it in a way that takes a catastrophic event to break and that will never happen,” he said.

Industry insiders, however, were abuzz over the fact that stars from Televisa-provided shows did not attend the upfront as they had in years past.

Univision will produce its own new late night show and a Sunday morning news debate program, aimed at giving advertisers brand-integration platforms they do not have with the Televisa-produced novelas.

Live, hour-long show Ay Que Noche is slated for Monday through Friday at midnight, and news show Punto Encuentro con Jorge Ramos will air Sunday at 10 a.m.

Univision says its 18-49 viewership grew 25% this year to an average 2.2 million in prime and that it beat ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox in 18-34 ratings on 146 out of the 231 nights so far this season.