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Univision upfront takes 42% jump

Net ad rates crossing language barrier

Spanish-lingo web Univision has banked $425 million in upfront advertising sales for the 1999-2000 season, marking a 42% hike over its $300 million upfront take last season.

Univision’s haul puts it on par with the WB Network, which banked an estimated $450 million in upfront sales earlier this year, and ahead of UPN, with an estimated $140 million.

At the other end of the network spectrum, NBC topped the $2 billion mark, while ABC bagged an estimated $1.7 billion. CBS and Fox were projected to have netted around $1.3 billion-$1.5 billion.

Univision execs were not available for further comment Wednesday, so it’s unclear how much of the web’s ad inventory was put on the block during the spring selling season. Webs typically hold back 10% to 15% of their regular season ad time for spot sales and make-goods.

Direct comparisons between Univision and English-lingo competitors are also hazy because Univision has far more network daytime inventory than the English-lingo nets.

Nevertheless, Univision’s bullish upfront underscores the increasing importance of Spanish-lingo media to big-ticket national advertisers anxious to reach the nation’s growing Hispanic population.

“These exceptional results reflect the advertising community’s increasing recognition that directly targeting the burgeoning Hispanic population through Spanish-language television makes both cultural and financial sense,” Univision prexy Henry Cisneros said in a statement.

Bridging a gap

Univision is hoping its momentum in ad sales will help bridge the wide gap between ad rates for English- and Spanish-lingo TV. For sure, Univision is often competitive with the Big Four webs in generating the prized younger demographic ratings, yet its ad sales are still far below the English-lingo pack.

Madison Ave. takes notice

Dennis McCauley, co-prexy of Univision Network Sales, indicated that the web’s solid viewership growth is chipping away at Madison Avenue’s traditional reluctance to pony up for Spanish-speaking auds.

“By constantly over-delivering ratings in primetime, Univision has emerged as a core buy in the upfront cycle and an integral part of advertisers’ long-term marketing plans,” McCauley said in a statement. “Advertisers recognize the exceptional return on investment they can achieve with Univision.”

Univision said that new advertisers to the network represented about 10% of its upfront haul, while returning advertisers upped their committments by an average 24% over last season. The web said it notched strong gains in such top-drawer ad categories of airlines, auto makers and telecommunications services.

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