Turkish telenovela adaptations, soccer programming, music and reality shows and amped-up news coverage are among the programming highlights of Univision’s 2020-21 content slate.
The Spanish-language media giant hosted a virtual upfront presentation on Tuesday for media buyers. The event is likely to be the last public outing for Univision before it is sold to a consortium of new investors in the fall, led by former Viacom CFO Wade Davis’ Forgelight Media.
In a slick presentation that began with a rousing performance by Latin artist Pitbull, outgoing CEO Vince Sadusky led a team of executives that included entertainment chief Jessica Rodriguez, ad sales and marketing head Steve Mandala and President of Univision’s sports brand TUDN, Juan Carlos Rodriguez.
Sadusky touted the fact that Univision was the fastest growing network in the U.S., regardless of language, posting 12% year-over-year growth, trailed by Fox at 4%.
Univision’s sister broadcast network, UniMás, grew by 45% in its recent broadcast season compared to the 2018-2019 season. It’s been driven mainly by live matchmaking reality show “Enamorandonos” and weekend movie blocks featuring high-octane blockbusters and premieres.
“The investments we’ve made in network, local and digital programming have resulted in Univision finishing the broadcast season as the highest growth network at a time when virtually all other networks experienced declines,” Sadusky pointed out.
News anchors Jorge Ramos and Ilia Calderon said that in these times of crisis, Univision has “doubled down” on its commitment to deliver news to Hispanics, devoting “more news hours and more comprehensive coverage” than ever.
Later this year, Univision News will be expanding its TV and digital programming with new programs led by “En un Minuto” (“In one Minute”), as well as “Q&A,” a town-hall style discussion show led by experts and Univision journalists, available only on Facebook.
In entertainment programming, Rodriguez announced the release of 11 new scripted titles, including two original adaptations of international hits: “Imperio de Mentiras” (Empire of Lies), based on the original Turkish melodrama “Kara Para Ask” (Black Money Love), and “Te Acuerdas de Mí” (Remember Me), inspired by another Turkish soap, “Gecenin Kraliçesi” (Queen of the Night).
Univision expects to adapt more Turkish content as well as telenovelas from Brazilian networks Globo and Record TV, said Rodriguez.
Univision’s sports programming is expected to pick up soon as soccer leagues resume their games in the summer. Reminding viewers that TUDN delivered 55% of soccer viewing to the U.S., Rodriguez announced that among the 1,600 live games set to air include big upcoming soccer events Euro 2020 and the Gold Cup 2021.
“Our reach, along with the unique connection we provide in-language and in-culture, is what separates our brand from the industry,” Mandala said, noting that 82% of Hispanic adults in the U.S. speak Spanish while 92% of Univision’s audience watches content live.
“If you are not developing campaigns that speak to this consumer, then you are missing the opportunity to effectively grow your business, especially at a time when advertisers are seeing a 40% growth in return on investment for their Spanish-language campaigns,” he added.
Sadusky said that Univision is focused on making a smooth transition to its new majority stakeholders, Searchlight Capital Partners and ForgeLight LLC, and that he expected the deal to close in the fall.
(Pictured: Jessica Rodriguez)