Battle of the ‘Betty’ beauties

ABC tries to woo Hispanics from Univision

ABC continues to make inroads in reaching the Hispanic audience, but it hasn’t come at the expense of top-rated Spanish-language net Univision.

“Ugly Betty,” the tale of an ugly duckling at a fashion magazine, debuted Sept. 28 with ABC’s largest audience for a regular scripted skein in the time period since “Matlock” in 1995.

The Alphabet web drew16.3 million total viewers, but it wooed only a fraction of the U.S. Hispanic auds who remain glued to the Spanish-language “La fea mas bella” on Univision, according to Nielsen’s National Hispanic Television Index (NHTI).

The face off between two Bettys — “Bella” is the Mexican version — is just the latest for this telenovela; in Spain and other countries, the local “Betty” is battling the Colombian original.

NHTI shows Univision’s incarnation of “Betty” delivered more Hispanic adults 18-34 and adults 18-49 in the 8-9 p.m. hour than all the five English-language networks combined. “Bella” lured 2.3 million Hispanic adults 18-49, while 768,000 drifted to ABC’s version.  Even among bilingual households, 3.3 million viewers opted for “Bella” compared with 855,000 for “Ugly Betty.”

Of course, “Bella” has had since spring to seduce viewers. The telenovela, set in an ad agency instead of a fashion mag, is stripped Monday to Friday and has been a consistent ratings champ for Univision since its April 24 debut.

In contrast, ABC’s “Ugly Betty” airs for one hour every Thursday, and is repeated on cable partners ABC Family and SoapNet on the following two days. As with all its primetime shows, ABC offers “Betty” in Spanish with closed-captioning and dubbing.

ABC has made a conscious effort to woo Hispanic auds to “Betty” as well as its other telenovela-ish skein “Desperate Housewives.”

“This is the first time ABC has hired an Hispanic marketing agency to specifically target the U.S. Hispanic audience in Spanish,” ABC Entertainment senior veep of marketing Marla Provencio says.

ABC hired Arenas Entertainment and also expanded the public and media relations responsibilities of Hispanic PR company Reyes Entertainment from “George Lopez” to “Ugly Betty” and other ABC primetime shows.

The Hispanic-targeted campaigns included Spanish on-air promo spots featuring original music; print, radio, outdoor, in-theater campaigns; and two vehicle campaigns, one featuring customized trucks with rolling billboards, and the other on television screens installed in buses.

On Oct.  7, ABC was to stage an open-air screening of the debut episode during People en Espanol’s Fiesta 2006 celebration in New York’s Central Park. Traditional print marketing included ads in Latina, TV y Notas, Vanidades, Mira and Cosmopolitan en Espanol magazines. Other advertising included online portals Yahoo! Telemundo, Terra, AOL Latino and various Hispanic cable nets such as MTV Tr3s, Galavision and even Univision.

On the day of its premiere, 100 Bettys strolled around New York handing out “Ugly Betty” mirrors.

ABC could boast that it outranked all other English-language webs among U.S. Hispanic auds on the night of the “Betty” premiere. Show drew 1.26 million Hispanic viewers watching English-language television — more than 2½ times the number watching runner-up Fox’s comedies (453,000) and more than three times what “Alias” drew for ABC on the same night a year ago (363,000).

While ABC won’t make any projections, it sees a lot of growth potential.

Jeff Lindsey, VP in charge of ratings says, “It proves that people came to the show and liked what they saw.”

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