Univision Ad Sales Blend NBC’s Heyday with Spanish Accent

CEO Randy Falco reconstitutes Peacock team as net takes aim at English-lingo broadcasters

Can you say “NBC” in Spanish? The ad-sales team at Spanish-language network Univision is led by the man who shepherded the Peacock’s outreach to sponsors during the heyday of “Friends,” “Frasier” and the “Law & Order” franchises.

Keith Turner served as president of NBC’s ad sales from 1998 to 2006, and spent more than 20 years at the Peacock. Since being named president of ad sales and marketing at Univision last August of last year, he has hired two other former prominent NBC Universal ad sales executives. Steven Mandala, now exec VP of advertising at Univision (who did a previous stint at the company), once ran ad sales for all of NBC Universal’s cable properties. And John Kelly, who spent 12 years at NBC Universal in ad sales for many of its news properties, was named exec VP of Univision’s digital ad sales last week.

Should sponsors say “pavo real” – the Spanish equivalent of “peacock” – when dealing with Univision these days?

In an interview, Turner demurred (he said he has “engaged a tutor” to help him beef up two years’ of college Spanish so he can “understand the product” and better sell it). He called his team a mix of “people with proven track records in combination with people at Univision who are already here with proven track records.” Longtime Univision execs Trisha Pray and Roberto Ruiz, for instance, continue in senior sales roles at the company.

Even so, it’s hard to dismiss the feeling that Univision CEO Randy Falco, who rose to second-in-command at NBCUniversal before Jeff Zucker got the nod to replace NBCU topper Bob Wright, is trying to put the band together again – and has something to prove to the company for which he once toiled. Univision’s regular smacking of NBC in promotional materials – a new campaign touting the fact the Spanish broadcaster trumped NBC in the most recent sweeps period marks the second time Univision has put the Peacock in its sights – doesn’t do much to dispel the notion.

And then there are bon mots like this, from Mr. Turner: “I was there for 20 years, when they used to have something called ‘Must-See TV.’ That’s gone away.”

Falco and his team are boosting Univision at a hotly competitive time. A new generation of Spanish-speaking consumers is growing, and, TV executives say, demanding content on par with what English-language networks offer, along with the familiar telenovelas and episodes of “Sabado Gigante.”  In a signal this demographic is attractive, News Corp. last year launched MundoFox, joining the fray with Univision and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo (which recently named former Univision chief Joe Uva to oversee its operations). Meanwhile, Univision and Walt Disney’s ABC are teaming up to launch Fusion, a cable network aimed at U.S. Hispanics, in the second half of 2013.

Advertisers are spending more with Spanish-language TV outlets. According to Kantar, a tracker of ad spending, Spanish language TV ad spending rose 20% in the fourth quarter of 2012, boosted by higher sales levels at the broadcast networks in the category. Spanish-language TV ad spending rose 15% for the entire year, compared with just 9% at English-language broadcast networks – and this in a year with a Summer Olympics.

Turner and his team are now starting to meet with ad buyers in advance of the so-called “upfront” sales season, when TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the fall. They are eager to pass NBC and move on to a new target, he suggested: “Number four isn’t enough. We’re going to keep going.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: 'American Horror Story' Makes 'Suddenly Last Summer' Sizzle Again

    FX Network’s “American Horror Story” returns for a ninth season next month, and promos for the next chapter of the anticipated series, dubbed ‘AHS 1984,’ have been airing frequently across cable television throughout August. In the short yet effective spot (see below), the Motels’ melancholic, moody “Suddenly Last Summer” plays as aerial footage of an [...]

  • Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star

    Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star in Multi-Camera Comedy Series for Netflix

    Wanda Sykes and Mike Epps are headed to Netflix. The streamer has ordered a multi-camera comedy series starring the two comedians titled “The Upshaws.” The series centers on a working-class Africian American family in Indiana struggling to make it work and make it right without the blueprints to do it. Sykes will executive produce and [...]

  • Vader Streams Shuts Down

    Vader Streams Shut Down by Hollywood Studios

    A coalition of Hollywood studios and streaming companies announced on Tuesday that they have shut down Vader Streams, which was once a popular source of pirated TV content. The service went offline in early May under mysterious circumstances, leading to speculation that the operator had either absconded or been forced out of business. The Alliance [...]

  • Søren-Sveistrup

    Netflix Teams With 'The Killing' Creator for Crime Thriller 'The Chestnut Man'

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Further expanding its Scandinavian footprint, Netflix has announced its second Danish original series, “The Chestnut Man,” a police thriller based on “The Killing” creator Søren Sveistrup’s popular novel. The streaming giant will team with Sveistrup’s SAM Productions, minority owned by Studiocanal, part of Vivendi Canal Plus Group, to deliver this noir-influenced literary [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    ICM Blasts Writers Guild Over Withdrawal of State Lawsuit

    ICM Partners has slammed the leaders of the Writers Guild of America over its decision to withdraw from its state court lawsuit in favor of refiling the action in federal court. The agency, which was sued in April by the guild and eight WGA members over charging allegedly illegal packaging fees, issued a statement Tuesday [...]

  • succession

    'Succession' Renewed for Season 3 at HBO

    “Succession” has scored an early Season 3 renewal at HBO. The news comes as the critically-acclaimed drama series is just two episodes into its second season. Season 1 of the series was recently nominated for five Emmy Awards, including for best drama series. “We are elated that ‘Succession’ and its exploration of wealth, power and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content