Univision Touts Multicultural ‘Mainstream,’ Luis Miguel Drama and Fusion at Upfront

Univision executives gave a big plug to the multicultural programming on cabler Fusion and the efforts to diversify the range of programming on the mothership broadcast networks during its upfront presentation in New York on Tuesday.

“What marketers thought of as multicultural media is fast becoming mainstream,” Steve Mandala, Univision’s exec VP of ad sales, told the crowd of media buyers gathered at the Lyric Theater.

Fusion unveiled a creative board stocked with boldface names to “identify the next generation of creators and build a pipeline of diverse talent the network can tap into.” The list includes actresses Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, “O.J.: Made in America” director Ezra Edelman and Puerto Rican rapper Residente. Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. will chair the board.

Programming executives discussed their efforts to expand into new program formats beyond the telenovela staples. They also emphasized the focus on cross-media storytelling spanning TV and digital platforms.

Univision entertainment president Lourdes Diaz gave a big pitch to plans for biographical drama series on superstar singer Luis Miguel. Univision rival Telemundo is working on a similar project with Miguel’s cooperation. Diaz said that would give an edge to Univision’s take on his life.

“We’re not obliged to tell anything but the whole truth — every juicy detail,” she said. She added that because Miguel “literally grew up in front of Televisa cameras, we have a crazy amount of footage — authentic footage.”

Among Univision’s other music-themed shows is reggaeton series “Barrio Records,” developed by Story House Entertainment, which is co- producing three seasons of Univision’s top rated series about the Mexican drug lord now in a U.S. penitentiary, “El Chapo,” with Netflix.

To make up for losing the lucrative Spanish-language broadcasting rights to the upcoming FIFA World Cup seasons to Telemundo, Univision Deportes will begin airing one of soccer’s most prestigious matches, the UEFA Champions League, which will air exclusively in Spanish across Univision Communication’s linear and digital platforms. Also, in the summer and fall of 2018, Univision Deportes will air the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Nations League matches across its platforms.

In keeping with worldwide trends, Univision’s programming staple, the telenovela, will feature fewer episodes and more relevant storylines with fast-moving plots, increased diversity, and complex characters such as Arturo Perez Reverte’s white-collar crime series “El Ultimo Dragon” as well as telenovelas from Univision’s longtime supplier Televisa: “Mi Marido Tiene Familia” (My Husband has a Family), “Papa a Toda Madre” – (The Mother of all Dads) and “Amar Despues de Amar” (To Love After Loving).


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