Infusion at Univision

Spanish lingo nets add originals to sked

NEW YORK — Univision Communications, which has relied almost exclusively on its programming partners for fiction shows, will add an original telenovela, comedy, a new gameshow format and an animated program to its flagship network’s 2002-2003 lineup.

Univision is also tweaking the schedule of its second network, Telefutura.

The Spanish-language media group held a double upfront presentation for both nets on Wednesday.

Univision Television Networks entertainment prexy Mario Rodriguez said the group has brought in new auds since the January launch of Telefutura, though the flagship net’s share has slipped.

Through April, Telefutura has averaged an 8 share, and Univision 70-71 share, for a combined 78-79 share, he said. “A year ago, Univision alone was averaging about 74 to 75 share against 25 to 26 for Telemundo,” he said.

NBC could help sector

Univision execs pooh-poohed the competition, even now that Telemundo is backed by NBC, while acknowledging NBC’s involvement will help lift the entire sector.

“NBC may be able to go to advertisers not on Spanish TV and because of their power or arm-twisting get them to come on,” Univision Television Networks prexy and chief operating officer Ray Rodriguez said. “But advertisers who do the research will see” that Univision has a bigger audience, he said.

Univision’s weekday schedule is essentially unchanged, with news, talk and novelas during the day, and the primetime slots filled with Televisa soaps. Two sudsers, the now-airing “El Privigelio de Amar” and the upcoming soccer-themed “El Juego de la Vida,” will have runs that extend into the fall and the November sweeps.

Univision will launch — the date and timeslot not yet known — its first original novela, “Te Amare en Silencio” (I Will Love You in Silence). Novela is produced in Los Angeles by Paloma Prods., an outside outfit affiliated with Univision chairman Jerry Perenchio. In other synergies, the soap’s novela theme song is performed by Jaime Camil, an artist signed with Univision Music Group.

Paloma is also producing an original animated series for Univision based on the comic strip “Baldo,” co-created by Hector Cantu and Carlos Castellanos.

Univision is producing inhouse the comedy sketch show “Playa Tropical,” set in a beachside resort hotel, which will air Saturday nights this fall.

On Sunday nights it will bow “Quien Dijo Miedo” (Who’s Afraid), a two-hour gameshow format being produced in the U.S. by Nostromo America, a joint venture of Spain’s Nostromo and Venevision Intl., a Miami-based supplier to Univision. Contestants are dared to do weird or unusual things in the gamer, which aired in Spain on Antena 3 but has not been sold before in the U.S.

Univision is also adding weekend editions of its long-running 5 p.m. weekday newsmag “Primer Impacto.”

Telefutura slate

Telefutura will continue to air its mix of talk, celebrity shows and novelas during the day, but at 3 p.m. weekdays, it will bow “Corazones Rotas” (Broken Hearts), which executives likened to “Divorce Court.” Venevision Intl. is producing.

Telefutura is eliminating its early primetime movie to air the Televisa-produced “Que Dice La Gente” (Family Feud) weekdays at 8 p.m.

The network will air another new program at 8:30 p.m., but Univision execs said they were not ready to announce details.

The weekday primetime schedule will then include just one film, at 9 p.m., but Telefutura is adding more Spanish-language theatrical releases to complement its library of dubbed Hollywood productions.

Univision said it expects to build more programming synergies with Televisa going forward. It is already sharing segments on entertainment news shows, for example, and the two will collaborate on some World Cup coverage.

By the fourth quarter, Univision and Televisa hope to jointly launch five cable channels. Univision has already completely revamped its existing feevee Galavision, largely with Televisa programming.

Having wrapped “Big Brother,” Televisa is gearing up for several music formats, including “Operacion Triunfo,” a popular Spanish format. On Tuesday night, Telemundo announced a similar reality-concept.

Univision is admittedly conservative with the flagship net, so as not to jeopardize its leading share. Mario Rodriguez said, “With Telefutura we can afford to be more daring.”