Hispanic upfront week wrapped up Thursday evening with Univision Communications’ early afternoon presentation at the New Amsterdam theatre in Times Square and ensuing bash at the Edison Ballroom. Here are the highlights of the week in chronological order.
Lauren Zalaznick, chair, NBCUniversal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media, kicked off a Telemundo press presentation on May 17, stressing the “stunning opportunity” the U.S. Hispanic market represents. It was the first time an NBC executive opened up a Telemundo press event. It was also Don Browne’s last upfront, as he is retiring from Telemundo on June 3.
Zalaznick said NBCU has retained executive search firm Spencer Stuart to find a replacement for Browne. She declined to give out more details of the search.
Among the most anticipated announcements, Telemundo confirmed it has hired former Univision personality Cristina Saralegui to host her own weekend show –yet to be named- expected to air some time at the end of 2011. Saralegui, who left Univision late last year amid a bitter dispute with her former employer, will first host a special show May 31st featuring the cast of La Reina del Sur, the Telemundo telenovela that has broken all the audience ratings in the network’s history.
mun2 is also ready to launch new programs, including El más chingón (loosely translated as the “true bad ass”) an American Idol-type competition reality series set to discover the next great Regional Mexican talent. Pitched as a “talent search with a twist,” El más chingón will select contestants through an interactive online campaign.
Later that day Telemundo welcomed over 1,000 people at the American Museum of Natural History for an event that lasted one hour and a half, and featured some of the network’s top executives and talent. Closing the presentation was Zalaznick, who reminded the audience she is learning to Spanish as part of her efforts to “join the family” of Hispanic media. Another goal, said Zalaznick, “is to get my clothes tighter and my shoes higher.”
Unlike previous years, ESPN Deportes this year took the stage as part of ESPN’s upfront presentation on May 17. The all-sports network announced it has ordered its first original series El Diez, starring Latin American film and TV star and RBD group music group member Alfonso Herrera, who was at the presentation.
The 10-episode series is ESPN Deportes’ first original scripted series. It chronicles the life of a professional soccer player who arrives to Mexico City in search of glory. The series is shot in HD on location in Mexico City and will showcase some of Mexico’s most iconic sports locations. The series will premiere in the fall of 2011.
Fox Hispanic Media
The newly created Fox Hispanic Media welcomed about 350 guests at the New York City Public Library Tuesday May 17 to unveil its fall programming. For the first time, FHM presented attendees with offerings not from two, but three networks: Fox Deportes, Utilísima and the yet to be launched NatGeo Mundo.
FHM introduced the concept of “The Choice,” saying its networks are not about language, but about culture. The theme of the presentation revolved around a fictitious family of three (ranging from the foreign born parents to the U.S., acculturated child) to showcase the reality of today’s U.S. Latinos. “If you pay close attention… you’ll notice none of our channels are called ‘En Español,” said Hernán López, president and CEO of Fox International Channels.
In addition to programming highlights, FHM took the opportunity to pitch Fox Creative Solutions, a group created to help develop original branded content; and FHM.com, a destination featuring insights, and creative solutions to help meet the evolving business challenges of advertisers.
Discovery en Español
Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav flew in early on Tuesday to attend Discovery en Español’s breakfast event at the famed Four Seasons Restaurant in midtown Manhattan. Zaslav had been in Chicago for the second to last taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show but made a point to be there at his first Discovery en Español ever: “I didn't want to miss this,” Zaslav told a crowd of over 200. "U.S. Hispanic is a huge growth area for us."
Discovery en Español will be premiering 50 new series and 30 new seasons, all in Spanish, either from Discovery Latin America or the U.S., dubbed into Spanish.
- Estrella TV
LBI Media-owned Estrella TV network spared no expense to throw its first upfront presentation ever with a lavish luncheon at New York City's Gotham Hall on Wednesday May 18.
President and Founder Lenard Liberman took the stage to pitch Estrella TV as an “alternative to Univision and Telemundo,” and promised to debunk some myths, including that “Hispanics only watch telenovelas.” Unlike Univision and Telemundo, Estrella TV does not carry one single telenovela; instead it focuses on variety shows, game shows and music.
Former Univision news anchor Enrique Gratas came onstage to announce the upcoming launch of El momento con Enrique Gratas, an investigative reporting weekly show slated for the fall. Also premiering this fall on Estrella TV: late-night show Esta noche con Héctor Suárez and reality competition Quiero triunfar, among others.
At a packed house Thursday morning in Manhattan Vme presented its 2011-2012 lineup, which includes several new music and lifestyle series and –perhaps more importantly– increasing content from new owners Grupo Prisa of Spain. At hand for Vme's upfront presentation ever were two of Grupo Prisa's top executives, Manuel Polanco and Ignacio Polanco of the powerful Polanco family who founded Grupo Prisa. Prisa, which owns the famed Spanish daily El Pais, acquired 51% of Vme and at least for now, the group plans to keep it that way: "We are very pleased with that 51 percent," Manuel Polanco, president of Prisa Television said. Univision Communications
Univision showcased its growing relationship with Televisa, including the addition of the popular Hoy morning show (to air in the U.S. right after Univision's morning show Despierta América) and officially announced it will launch three new networks, dedicated to news, sports and telenovelas.
Hosted by Mexican telenovela actress and pop singer Lucero, the show kicked off by thanking some VIG’s (Very Important Gente), including Haim Saban, of the Saban Capital Group, which partly owns Univision, and Randy Falco, the company's COO, who has been in the job less than a year.
In addition to announcing several new telenovelas and variety shows, Univision Networks president César Conde touted the upcoming launch of weight loss reality show ¡Sí, Se Puede! a Spanish-language version of the famed The Biggest Loser, a co-production between Biggest Loser creator Dave Broome and Estefan Film and TV Productions.