TV`s FasTesT-GrowinG audience You are iGnorinG


TV`s FasTesT-GrowinG audience You are iGnorinG
TV’s Fastest-Growing Audience You Are Ignoring
The U.S. Hispanic population is 52 million and
counting, and one network (almost) alone has its ear.
How Univision is nipping at the heels of the
networks as the brand most recognized and trusted
by Latinos — second only to the Church
By Marisa Guthrie Photographed by Dorothy Hong
m aria elena salinas and jorge r amos
stand onstage at the University of Miami’s
BankUnited Center in front of an audience
of 700. It is 6 p.m. on Sept. 19, and they are
awaiting the arrival of Republican presidential
candidate Mitt Romney for the first of two “Meet
the Candidates” forums. Salinas is wearing
black peep-toe stilettos (definitely not sensible
shoes), while Ramos, known as the Hispanic
Walter Cronkite, paces in a slate, single-breasted
slim suit and skinny tie. The two have anchored
Univision’s nightly newscast Noticiero Univision
since 1986 (off camera, she refers to him as
“Georgy”). On this day, they and their executives
at the Spanish-language network have achieved a
historic coup, having compelled the presidential
candidates to rearrange their stumping schedules to address the Hispanic audience in Miami,
home of Univision’s headquarters and where you
can go days without hearing English spoken.
“I’ve been with the
company for 31 years,
and I can tell you
there’s been a humongous change,” says
Salinas. “When we
The collective
started, there were
spending power of
14 million Hispanics,
Latino Americans
now there are [more
than] 50 million.
Before, we had to beg for interviews and explain
who we were. Now the doors to the White House
are open to Univision. We don’t have to go knocking on their door, they come knocking on ours.”
Salinas and Ramos ask their questions in
Spanish, which are translated for the candidates
via earpieces. At 6:15 p.m., Romney, still backstage, can be heard over the translation channel
asking: “I’m not going to hear my answers translated [in Spanish] in my ear, am I?”
The forums — which aired Sept. 19 and 20
on Univision and were streamed live in partnership with Facebook (helping fuel an Internet
mini-firestorm over Romney’s overly tanned
makeup, allegedly applied to court this
audience) — were a direct result of some
well-placed outrage on the part of Univision
Communications CEO Randy Falco.
“When I started in 1975, there were three networks and broadcasters
had a charge to take care of their communities. Somewhere along
the line, they strayed from that responsibility. When I came here, I
found it again. It was refreshing,” says CEO Randy Falco (right),
photographed Oct. 1 in his office at Univision’s Manhattan headquarters
with Noticiero Univision co-anchors Ramos (left) and Salinas.
50 | The Hollywood Reporter | 10.26.12 | The Hollywood Reporter
| 51
My Top five
in news
My Top
in news
by Maria Elena Salinas,
co-anchor of Noticiero
Univision, the top-rated
newscast among
“I followed a man as
he searched for his
daughter’s remains.
He found a foot, and
I asked him how he
knew it was his
daughter’s. He said
every parent knows
their kid’s feet. It had
a big impact on me.”
General Augusto
Pinochet, 1989
“He gave very few
interviews to foreign
press during his
16-year dictatorship
of Chile. It was
impressive to be able
to question a man
who yielded so much
power about human
rights violations.”
Manuel Antonio
Noriega, 1989
“One of his last
interviews before
the U.S. invasion of
Panama that led
to his arrest. He told
me U.S. relations
soured because he
refused to aid Contras
fighting Sandinistas
in Nicaragua.”
Univision as COO in January 2011 (after a stint
at AOL) and was elevated to CEO less than six
months later. “You’re either going to be on top of
it when it hits or you’re going to be underneath
it. But it’s hitting.”
Headquartered in New York and in the Miami
suburb of Doral, Fla., Univision has ridden the
demographic wave since its beginnings in 1962
when KMEX — now Univision’s flagship station in Los Angeles — became one of the first
univision is mak ing itself heard on
non-English TV stations in the U.S. Acquired in
the political landscape, only partially because
2007 by a consortium led by Israeli-American
the Spanish-speaking constituency in the U.S.
billionaire Haim Saban (a
numbers 23 million registered
staunch Democrat, Saban got
voters. “Without the Hispanic
a hearty embrace from Obama
vote, you can’t make it to the
after the Sept. 20 forum), today
White House,” notes Ramos.
Univision Networks employs
The Hispanic population has
more than 4,400 across 62
grown at a rate of 43 percent
owned TV stations, 69 radio
since 2000 — four times the
stations, two broadcast netnational growth rate, accordworks, 10 cable networks and
ing to the U.S. Census. Latinos
an interactive team.
are firmly established in all
Univision’s primetime
corners of culture, from sports
lineup of telenovelas (which
(Major League Baseball is
air five nights a week), sports
nearly 30 percent Hispanic) to
Viewers per episode
and unscripted programming
entertainment (Sofia Vergara,
for the 2010 telenovela
— including the top-rated
Pitbull, Shakira and Justin
Soy Tu Dueña,
¡Mira Quien Baila! (Look Who’s
Bieber paramour Selena Gomez
or A Woman of Steel
Dancing), a Spanish-language
are crossover superstars) to
Dancing With the Stars, now in
politics and government (San
its third season — has helped to establish it as
Antonio Mayor Julian Castro made a splash at
the fifth-ranked network behind the broadcast
the Democratic convention in September; in
big four (Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC), averaging
2009 Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina
close to 2 million viewers in primetime among
Supreme Court justice). By 2050, one in three
the 18-to-49 demographic. The network is rouAmericans will be Hispanic, according to the
tinely No. 1 in that demo Friday nights, when its
Pew Research Center. Right now, the country’s
telenovelas reach their weekly cliffhanger. With
52 million Hispanics are sitting on $1.2 trillion in
a median-viewer age of 36 (compared to CBS
spending power.
and ABC’s north of 50 and late 40s for Fox and
“This is a big wave,” says Falco, who joined
52 | The Hollywood Reporter | 10.26.12
Kuwaiti Hospital,
Iraq War, 2003
“I interviewed ‘Ali,’
the 13-year-old whose
picture with his torso
burned and arms
blown off became a
symbol of collateral
damage. In Baghdad,
we found his sisters
and connected them
via satellite phone.”
Earthquake in
Haiti, 2010
Sept. 11,
“I had never seen so
much death and
destruction. I spent a
week under dire
conditions: sleeping
on the floor, without
sanitation and little
food, infected
mosquito bites. Left a
lasting impression.”
NBC), the trend lines for Univision are going in
the opposite direction as its English-language
competition has steadily shed viewers, especially
younger ones, for the past decade. Last season,
Univision outperformed at least one or more of
the big four on 245 nights among viewers 18 to
34. This is due in no small part to its catalog of
Televisa-produced telenovelas, which are DVRproof — one reason why an incredible 93 percent
of Univision’s primetime is viewed live. (Mexican
media giant Televisa, which tried to buy
Univision outright in 2007, purchased a $1.2 billion, 5 percent stake in the company in 2010.)
Such audience domination and viability — 84
percent of Hispanic millennials choose to speak
Spanish, according to Nielsen — are not going
unnoticed by potential competitors. Legacy
media companies with established channels
in the space are rushing to launch more. News
Corp. last summer unveiled MundoFox, adding
to a Spanish-language lineup that includes Fox
Deportes, launched in 1996 as Fox Sports en
Espanol, and NatGeoMundo, unveiled last year.
New players are emerging with dizzying
frequency, some with A-list talent attached.
Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez is the creative
force behind El Rey, an English-language cable
network aimed at acculturated Hispanics that is
set to launch in January 2014 on Comcast.
But Univision Networks maintains 73 percent of Spanish-language broadcast viewers,
with Univision commanding 59 percent of that
market share and sibling networks TeleFutura
and GalaVision accounting for 11 and 3 percent,
respectively. That’s down from 79 percent compared to 10 years ago, but still well ahead of closest rival Telemundo with its 21 percent audience
share. In fact, three of the top five broadcasts last
season among bilingual adults 18 to 34 were on
With all flights
grounded, Ramos
drove from Miami to
New York to cover the
terrorist attacks:
“Nothing compares to
covering war at home.
The smells and the
sights of those days
are still with me.”
clockwise from bottom left: courtesy of univision (2); brendan smialowski/getty images; stanley chou/getty images
Earthquake in
El Salvador, 2001
by Jorge Ramos,
co-anchor of
Noticiero Univision
Opening spread: Grooming by robert Huitron at mark edward inc.
Falco — a Bronx-born Anglo who does not
speak Spanish, though he asserts, “I speak the
language of television” — was on his way home to
Westchester from his Manhattan office Aug. 13
when he heard over the radio the news of the
moderators selected by the Commission on
Presidential Debates. They included the usual
suspects: PBS’ Jim Lehrer, CBS’ Bob Schieffer
and, lo and behold, the first female debate
moderator in 20 years, CNN’s Candy Crowley.
“I was furious,” Falco recalls. Says Ramos: “The
Commission, I think, are stuck in the 1950s. I
truly admire the moderators they chose, but
the U.S. is much more diverse than that. It’s a
strange case where politics is ahead of the media.
They are saying, ‘Yes, it’s OK to have an AfricanAmerican president but not OK to have a minority representative in the debates.’ ”
On Aug. 15, Commission executive director
Janet Brown received a letter from Falco expressing “disappointment” that the organization
“neglected to have anyone speak credibly to the
concerns of Hispanics in America” and offering
to host a fourth debate. “I knew what the answer
was going to be,” says Falco. “They’d write back
and say sorry, blah, blah, blah.”
Neither Ramos nor Falco was going to let it go.
That night on Noticiero Univision, Ramos publicly urged both candidates to participate in a
forum or additional debate hosted by Univision.
Two days later the Obama campaign called.
“I knew Obama would do it,” says Falco. “It was
a little later that we heard from Romney. And
I’m sure it was because they were hearing that
Obama had agreed. They couldn’t say no.”
“I have covered
five wars: El
Salvador, the Gulf, the
Balkans, Afghanistan
and Iraq. The best
feeling is to return
home safe and
embrace my son,
Nicolas, and my
daughter, Paola.”
Interviews With
Heads of State
The anchor says
“meeting the most
interesting people in
the world, from
Obama and George W.
Bush to Chavez and
Castro” is a great job
perk. “What other
profession allows you
to do that?”
Univision (the Latin Grammys, an episode of the
telenovela Teresa and music awards show Premio
Lo Nuestro). Whether upstart networks can
capture a bigger piece of the Hispanic market
remains to be seen. But they are united in their
target. Fox International Channels CEO Hernan
Lopez told media buyers in New York last May at
the inaugural MundoFox upfront — the company
spent $50 million to launch the channel — that
Spanish-language viewers only “think they’re
happy with their current choices.”
Univision is arming for the insurgency with a
company-wide ramp-up under Falco that aims
to make Univision-branded content available
to consumers on all platforms. On Oct. 17, the
network will unveil a redesign of its iconic tulip
logo with a new tagline: The Hispanic Heartbeat
of America. Last spring, Univision Networks
launched three cable channels; tlnovelas,
Univision 24/7 and the soccer (or futbol) focused
Univision Deportes, whose new president,
Mexican media entrepreneur Juan Carlos
Rodriguez, joined the company two months
ago. When headhunters approached him about
relocating from Mexico to Miami to work at
Univision, he says his first thought was, “They
don’t need a Mexican there.”
“But now I know I was wrong,” says Rodriguez.
That’s because the growth business for Spanishlanguage sports is Mexican league soccer.
Univision has secured U.S. rights to 12 of the 18
teams within Liga MX, the premiere Mexican
“Giving voice to
immigrants,” is
important to Ramos,
who left Mexico in 1983
and has interviewed
Arizona sheriff Joe
Arpaio. “After all these
years, I still feel like an
“What a privilege
it is to be a reporter
covering the best
soccer players in
the world,” says
Ramos. “Futbol is
the most important
thing among
the less important
things in life.”
soccer league, including Spanish and English
rights for the storied team Chivas beginning in
July 2013.“Our real business is futbol,” he says.
Univision has the 2014 FIFA World Cup in
Brazil, and its highest-rated sports events have
historically been men’s World Cup matches. But
last year, Telemundo poached those rights — and
will pay $600 million to broadcast the 2018 and
2022 men’s finals alone, almost doubling the
$325 million Univision will have paid for the 2010
and 2014 finals. Rodriguez is sanguine about the
loss. “I get paid to make money,” he says. “And
the amount of money they are paying for those
rights, they are taking a risk.”
Another piece of the expansion is a streaming
and social-destination business designed to appeal
to younger constituents. Hispanics over-index in
mobile technology (45 percent of Hispanic mobile
phone users have smartphones, compared to 34
percent in the general market). UVideos, a free
streaming service (launched Oct. 15) and app for
tablets and mobile devices (available Oct. 29), will
put all Univision content — with English subtitles
— on one platform with a deep social experience
via Twitter and Facebook Connect. The app will
be available at launch to DISH subscribers and on
AT&T U-verse, Cablevision and Microsoft’s Xbox
by year’s end. “Over the past three years we’ve
seen our mobile audience explode,” says Kevin
Conroy, president of Univision Interactive Media.
In the summer, Univision will unveil its first
English-language network, a 24-hour cable
Everybody is going after us. I think competition
is great, I really do. It makes us better. But
the differentiator is always going to be about
the brand.” randy falco, Univision CEO
news and lifestyle channel that is a joint venture
with ABC News. It is designed to go after the
third and fourth generations of acculturated
Hispanics who are increasingly the focus of marketers and advertisers. “We’re talking about an
enormous influential, affluent and growing segment of our country,” says ABC News president
Ben Sherwood. “We’re talking about an economy
the size of Turkey or Indonesia that exists right
here in the U.S. today. We’re talking about political influence that is powerful today and will be
inevitably more powerful.”
ABC parent Disney is handling distribution of
the still unnamed
network, and in
September, Disney
(which has the
popular suite of
ESPN networks
to leverage)
secured carriage
on Cablevision,
which serves more
than 3 million
customers in the
New York area.
Total viewers for the 2010
The network will
World Cup second-round
match between Mexico
be based in Doral.
and Argentina. (5.5 million
Start-up costs are
viewers watched on ABC.)
estimated at $275
million, including
a new 150,000-square-foot studio, while the channel is expected to employ about 350 people.
The ABC News partnership lets Univision’s
broadcast news division diversify its portfolio
and gives its news talent another outlet; since the
announcement last May, Ramos and Salinas have
appeared somewhat regularly on ABC News.
Salinas sat next to Diane Sawyer during coverage
of the Democratic National Convention, while
Ramos discussed the Supreme Court’s July ruling on Arizona’s controversial immigration law
on a slew of broadcasts (Nightline, World News).
Of course, many media critics and pundits,
especially from factions hostile to immigration, have accused Univision’s news division of
engaging in “advocacy journalism.” But Salinas
contends the network does not take a position
on issues. “I think of it more as contributing to
democracy and to the debate on immigration,”
she says. “Because without our point of view it’s
not a debate, it’s a monologue of blaming immigrants for all the ills of this country.”
It’s precisely that commitment to the Latino
perspective that fuels Univision’s success. “We
owe a lot of that [market-leading position] to the
unique relationship we have with our community,” says Univision Networks president Cesar
Conde. “There has been this void of leadership
nationwide, and I think in many ways Univision
has filled that void in the Hispanic community,
as far as being its defender, being its advocate.
It’s a very unique role that we play. Second to the
Church, Univision is the most recognized and
trusted brand among Hispanics.”
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c o n t i n u ed f r o m pa g e 5 3
And Madison Avenue is getting the message: Univision
pulled in $2.2 billion in ad revenue in 2011, according to Kantar,
up nearly 17 percent year-over-year. In May, the network secured
$1.5 billion in upfront commitments, says Miller Tabak analyst
David Joyce, compared to Telemundo’s $560 million. A large
chunk of that came from a nine-figure deal with Starcom and
its multicultural agency Tapestry, which purchased time across
Univision’s networks and platforms for clients including Burger
King, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg, Allstate and Bank of America.
It was the first big deal of the upfront selling season, and the
first time the market broke with a Spanish-language company.
But it’s not only numbers that sell — loyalty does, too.
Univision, says Starcom Worldwide president Mike Rosen,
“represents a culturally based community that takes loyalty to
a media brand to another level. People have their favorites in
both languages. But that connection is deeper with Univision
because it also represents a deeper cultural identity.”
The values that have always defined the Latin aesthetic
— family, community, hard work, inclusiveness — also happen
to be resurgent in the post-bust, recessionary culture at large.
And Conde, who always wears a suit and is infrequently without
a necktie, embodies the current generation of Hispanic
overachievers. Born in America to a Peruvian cardiologist
father and a Cuban mother who went back to school for a Ph.D.
in international relations after Conde and his two younger
brothers left for college, the 38-year-old has been at Univision
for nine years since arriving at GalaVision in 2003. All three
Conde boys attended Ivy League schools; Cesar has an
undergraduate degree from Harvard and an MBA from the
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Growing up,
Cesar says: “You had two responsibilities: One, you had to be
the best in whatever you did. But second, you had to make sure
that the brother who came after you met or surpassed you.”
As Linda Ong, a branding expert and founder of Truth Co.
who is consulting with Univision on cultural analysis, explains:
“Hispanics in America today don’t feel one portion of society
has to lose in order for another to win. That makes them better
prepared to weather tough economic times because they rely
on their values of hard work, education, community,
perseverance and self-reliance, as they have historically in their
quest to better their lives.” She adds: “Hispanic culture is
win-win. It’s not English or Spanish — it’s both. It’s yes and yes.
Or yes and sí.”
It’s one reason Falco, the latest in a succession of Anglos
in the Univision executive job, has been so welcomed — though
he admits there was some initial wariness. “I won’t pretend
there weren’t some people who were concerned about that.”
But Falco, who spent more than 30 years at NBC, has fully
embraced the Latin ethos. Hanging on the wall of his office are
the Univision 10 commandments: No. 1, “Act with integrity”;
No. 4, “We can only win together”; No. 9, “Win don’t whine,
no one wants to hear it” and No. 10, “Celebrate excellence and
have some fun!”
“You can feel the passion in this place,” says Falco. “It’s
palpable. At other companies, everybody is in competition
with each other.” He adds, “I don’t pretend to speak Spanish
fluently. I know enough to get by. But I love this company. I love
the opportunity. I really believe this: It’s one of the greatest
brands in all of media. It really is. And I think we have a
special responsibility to this community. It’s not hard to find our
true north.”
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