UPDATED: A host of Spanish-language reality TV and competition series are headed back to Univision this 2021-2022 season, in addition to several new scripted shows including “Nuestra Belleza Latina” (“Our Latin Beauty”), “Mira Quién Baila” (“Look Who’s Dancing”), “Pequeños Gigantes” (“Little Giants”), “Tu Cara me Suena” (“Your Face Sounds Familiar”) and “Quién es La Máscara” (“The Masked Singer”).
Also joining Univision’s content roster for the forthcoming television season are “TUDN Mega-Fest” and “UniVisionarios,” which will become part of the media titan’s award-show slate, featuring “Premios Juventud,” the “Latin Grammy Awards” and “Premios Lo Nuestro.” “UniVisionarios,” described as Univision’s take on “CNN Heroes,” will be a year-long platform that honors Hispanic visionaries who have made impactful contributions to their respective communities in the United States and worldwide, spanning the fields of sports, music, food, arts, healthcare, politics, technology and business. “UniVisionarios” will celebrate those who dedicated their lives to helping others and will culminate in an award-show gala during Hispanic Heritage Month in 2022. The long-standing annual Liga MX soccer competition “Campeón de Campeones” will serve as the anchor of “TUDN Mega-Fest.”
This year’s upfront, set to take place virtually Tuesday, comes shortly after the $4.8 billion merger between Mexico’s Televisa and Univision was unveiled on April 13, fueled by a desire to create a Spanish-language streaming giant serving the United States, Latin America and the rest of the “hispanohablante” world. The deal was made with similar motivations that brought Disney and 21st Century Fox together in 2019, as well as Viacom and CBS. Wade Davis, the Univision CEO who leads the combined Televisa-Univision entity, steers the enlarged company with Televisa co-CEO Alfonso de Angoitia, who will serve as executive chairman of the Televisa-Univision board of directors.
The presentation also comes soon after the ribbon-cutting of fledgling ad-supporting streaming service PrendeTV, which debuted March 30 and has a collection of 50 livestreaming channels that boast 30,000 hours of programming, will eventually be rolled under a broad-based service targeting the 600 million Spanish speakers across the globe.
Ahead of Tuesday’s upfront, Luis Silberwasser, the recently appointed president of the Univision Television Networks Group, told Variety what he’s hoping to accomplish at and for the company, how Univision is changing its strategy and staying competitive in the ever-increasingly tough Spanish-language market and his vision for both linear and streaming programming:
What has your tenure at Univision been like so far? What new perspectives have you gained about the industry in this role?
Univision is at the beginning of an incredible transformation to become one of the biggest media players in the Spanish-language industry. We’re moving forward from maybe being too focused on the United States and on linear networks to broadening our horizons, not only here with new platforms but also overseas. It’s rewarding. One of the things that I’ve done since I’ve been here for about four months or so is to really understand the audience, from a Univision perspective. Hispanics are 60 million strong in the country, and we’re only growing more in numbers. Part of what I’m trying to do is get beyond that and understand the relationship between Univision and U.S. Hispanics. It is a relationship of mutual trust because our sole reason for being is to serve the Hispanic community. We find that trust precious and valuable, and we want to continue fostering it. The programming initiative that we’re announcing at the upfront has to do with ensuring that our content is immediate, and has a level of urgency and a big scale of importance that allows Hispanics to come together to watch sports on our channels or our events or our shows. We also have an incredible investment in news, both on the local and the national level — we have news in the morning, at noon and in the evening, providing this service to the Hispanic community that comes to us not only for the news but to find out how and why it affects them.
Since Univision was sold in early 2020, how has the company changed its strategy? How is Univision staying competitive and ahead of the fray?
I think Univision is now in the process of making very important investments to be successful and to be relevant in this new world right now, so we have announced (and it’s already up and running) our new platform PrendeTV. The beginning of that sort of streaming initiative is one way that we had modified our strategy. But, at the same time, I would say that as media changes, there are some things that remain the same, such as the sort of quality and storytelling that audiences are hoping to watch. That’s something that we will provide, regardless of the platform. I believe that there’s a lot of opportunities to create more moments to not only invest in streaming platforms, but also invest in linear platforms, and there are more opportunities to create new moments like the cultural events we will be announcing during our Upfront Presentation. We’re looking at our primetime scheduling and figuring out how we continue to bring forth new programming and new ways of telling stories that work hand-in-hand with our partners at Televisa — together we talk evaluating new scripts, new concepts, genres, etcetera. Taking a look at our Sunday programming for example, such as ‘Domingos en Familia,’ I would say that we really believe that we can bring the best reality and entertainment shows on Sunday nights for families to enjoy together. We’re really bullish on the linear side of the business, and we will try to continue to invest in these channels to create more and more of these events that bring people together.
How are you hoping to juggle both the linear and streaming audience’s programming needs?
We believe that these streaming platforms are complimentary, and also that they shouldn’t overlap too much. I believe that there is a tremendous appetite and audience for the type of programming that, let’s say linear networks create, all the way from news to sports to entertainment, and the type of entertainment we provide specifically — whether it’s reality TV or daily competition shows. There are certain things that people come to linear networks to watch, and then I think people go to streaming for different things, different dramas and different types of reality and entertainment shows. Our strategy is to ensure that our programming complements, and does not overlap, because part of what we want to do here is broaden the reach of Univision to more consumers than ever before. I think we’re reaching some of those consumers already on linear, but there’s a whole bunch of opportunities with streaming to have audiences that will gravitate toward that product because it offers something different than the rest of our competition.
Moving forward, what is your overall vision for programming? What should we expect for the 2021-2022 season?
Right now we’re investing in three pillars — we’re investing in news, in sports and in entertainment, and we’re doing so across our entire portfolio. As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that we want to do is to be able to provide those moments during the year where we can bring people together on a daily, or live, basis. Most of our technical strategy in the past was primarily driven by music events (like the Latin Grammys), but we wanted to do much more and double down on that strategy to create other types of temporal events that speak to a different consumer, and different types of advertisers as well. So, we’re announcing two big tentpoles: one is called ‘TUDN Mega-Fest,’ which is a combination of two passions that bring Hispanics together: soccer and music. We’re going to kick this off the weekend of July 2022 during Liga MX´s ‘Campeón de Campeones,’ which is sort of like the Superbowl of fútbol. Surrounding that grand final match between the two best Mexican teams that year, we’re going to have a variety of events — a music concert with all-star Latin artists (‘Balón de Oro’) and a gala event honoring some of the best Mexican soccer players out there. We’re going to organize the whole weekend with live events that bring people together, so it’s something we haven’t done before and we’re really excited about.
The second one is called “UniVisionarios” — and I particularly love this one — because the idea is to honor the Hispanics that have made tremendous contributions to our communities and to the United States overall. We’re going to be honoring community leaders, pioneers and game changers, the sort of visionaries that have made contributions in various industries and categories. Interestingly, when we kick this off, it won’t be a one-night event. It will be an initiative that spans over close to 12 months. All our networks will be involved because we will be profiling some of these candidates that we want to be able to expose to our audience and make their stories known throughout the year. And, then at the end, we will have a celebration, a gala event where we decide who were the visionaries at the top of the categories of entertainment, technology, business, healthcare, politics, etcetera. We’re also going to be involving the audience to vote and to participate in selecting who those final candidates are. We are launching that during Hispanic Heritage Month in 2022 (September), and the idea is that this evolves into a yearly initiative.
Here’s a rundown of upcoming Univision programs:
“Nuestra Belleza Latina” (Our Latin Beauty – Season 12) – Hosted by Alejandra Espinoza, Univision’s most popular and longest-running reality competition will pursue its most diverse season yet, as it continues its mission to build and train talented women to become the next Univision star. TV host, model and former Miss Colombia Daniella Alvarez will join the show for the first time as a judge. “Nuestra Belleza Latina” is produced by Univision Studios.
“Desafío The Box” (Challenge The Box) – Coming off the heels of the successful Colombian reality show “Desafío: Súper Regiones,” which aired earlier this year on UniMás, this mega-production will take place in the jungle of Tobia, Cundinamarca in Colombia. In its 17th season, 44 participants representing 11 regions will face mental and physical challenges in order to win a cash prize. “Desafío the Box” is produced by Caracol.
“Vencer el Pasado” (Overcoming the Past) – Following the success of “Vencer el Miedo” (Overcoming Fear) and “Vencer el Desamor” (Overcoming Heartbreak), the third installment of the blockbuster anthology “Vencer el Pasado” brings back another story about women empowerment. Featuring Angelique Boyer, Sebastian Rulli, and Erika Buenfil, produced by Rosy Ocampo, this family-friendly drama will feature four very different women who will attempt to leave behind some unfortunate events after learning firsthand that what’s on social media can never be erased. “Vencer el Pasado” is produced by Televisa.
“La Desalmada” (The Fiend) – Produced by José Alberto “El Güero” Castro (“Médicos,” “Por Amar Sin Ley”) and starring José Ron and Livia Brito, this romantic melodrama focuses on a woman who will seek vengeance to right wrongs of the past and will run into a twist of fate. The main character, Fernanda, will be on a mission to take revenge on a man who previously hurt her physically and emotionally, but unfortunately, her memories are not clear. “La Desalmada” is produced by Televisa.
“Los Ricos También Lloran” (The Rich Also Cry) – Following the success of “Cuna de Lobos” (Den of Wolves), “La Usurpadora” (The Usurper), and “Rubí,” the anticipated fourth series of “The Collection,” an anthology of timeless classics reimagined for a new generation, will premiere on Univision. Produced by W Studios’ Carlos Bardasano (“El Dragón,” “La Piloto,” “Amar a Muerte,” “Rubí” and “Como Tú No Hay 2”), this drama features Mariana, a bright and humble girl who by chance saves the life of Don Alberto, a rich patriarch owner of Mexico´s greatest conglomerate empire. This is a story where family and love struggle to prevail in a world where money, ego, and power rule all. “Los Ricos También Lloran” is produced by Televisa.
“Génesis” (The Story of Creation) – This new epic series will take audiences to the beginning of time to tell the story of the first book of the Bible and one of the most recognized books worldwide, Genesis. The show is created by Record TV, the Brazilian hitmaker known for one of Univision’s most highly-rated historical dramas, “Jesús.” “Génesis” is produced by Record TV.
“S.O.S. Me Estoy Enamorando” (S.O.S. I’m Falling in Love) – This family-friendly, inspirational drama promises to melt audiences’ hearts. Featuring Daniel Arenas and Iran Castillo, produced by Lucero Suárez (“Te Doy La Vida,” “Ringo”), “S.O.S. Me Estoy Enamorando” tells the story of Alberto who will have to make a deal to save the screen-printing shop that’s been in his family for decades. The agreement that appears promising will soon fail as his “new” partners have other plans for the property it sits on, and things will get complicated (to say the least). “S.O.S. Me Estoy Enamorando” is produced by Televisa.
“La Reina del Flow 2” (Queen of Flow 2) – In the second season of “La Reina del Flow,” Yeimy (Carolina Ramirez) will face new dangers that will threaten her life and her family. A new enemy, who knows her very well, will appear to make her world crumble. From the shadows, Charly Flow (Carlos Torres) will do whatever it takes to regain his freedom. “La Reina del Flow 2” is produced by Caracol.
“Despierta América” (Wake up America) – The number #1 morning show, Monday through Friday, among U.S. Hispanics, regardless of language, will now wake up Hispanic America on Sunday mornings as well. Beginning this fall, “Despierta América” will bring topline news and longer-length human-interest stories across various topics from music to culture, captivating our audiences six days a week.
Live 24-Hour News Channel – Univision will launch a new direct-to-consumer 24-hour live news service, reaching Hispanics via its new PrendeTV free, premium streaming service. The new channel will offer live news and breaking stories in digital-friendly formats and snackable storytelling content across platforms.
“Soltero con Hijas” (Single with Kids) – This lighthearted comedy tells the story of Nicolás and Victoria, who love and hate one another. Nicolas is a PR manager in a prestigious hotel in Acapulco, and he lives a care free life; in fact, he doesn’t believe in marriage or love. A tragic accident, however, will leave him in responsible for his three nieces. Victoria Robles is just the opposite, and she wants to start a family and be a mother. However, she will have to face a crushing diagnosis that prevents her from conceiving and will cause her great pain, which deepens when Mauricio, whom she is about to marry, cancels the wedding the night before. “Soltero con Hijas” is produced by Televisa.
“Vecinos” (Neighbors) – This beloved and fun comedy franchise will return later this year for a 10th and 11th season. “Vecinos” is produced by Televisa.
“Dr. Cándido Pérez” – A reimagined version of the beloved 90’s sitcom “Dr. Cándido Pérez,” starring Arath de la Torre and Irán Castillo. The comedy series tells the story of the charismatic Dr. Cándido Pérez (Arath de la Torre), a women’s doctor, and his funny occurences at work. “Dr. Cándido Pérez” is produced by Televisa.
“Amor Prohibido” (Forbidden Love) – One of the highest-rated dramas of all time in Turkey comes to the U.S. on Univision’s sister network UniMás. After losing his wife eleven years earlier and isolating himself from social life, Adnan can refocus his attention on his daughter Nihal and his son Bülent. However, soon after, Adnan meets and falls in love with Bihter, who, despite not loving him, marries Adnan to get back at her mother. But Bihter becomes blinded by passion when she falls in love with Behlul, her husband’s nephew, and their secret love affair will soon affect every family member. “Amor Prohibido” is produced by Ay Yapim.
“Las Mil y Una Noches” (A Thousand and One Nights) – Following its success in Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and Greece, this award-winning, internationally-acclaimed Turkish drama focuses on the troubled romance between Sehrazat and Onur. This story is loosely based on the folk tales compiled in the novel “One Thousand and One Nights,” also known as “Arabian Nights.” “Las Mil y Una Noches” is produced by TMC Films.
UniMás Weekday Entertainment
“Enamorándonos” – A daily two-hour show featuring 40 participants looking to find their perfect match. This season will deliver more love stories, breakups, engagements and even on-air marriages, as well as an extraordinary opportunity for singles in various cities around the U.S. and Puerto Rico to find their other half; “Inseparables, Amor al Límite” (Power Couple); “Guerreros 2021” (Warriors 2021). “Enamorándonos,” “Inseparables, Amor al Límite” and “Guerreros 2021” are produced by Soho Formats LLC and Televisa.