What: Freedom Communications, the company led by Aaron Kushner, who is big believer in print media, is launching Unidos en el Sur de California, a new Spanish-language weekly newspaper for Southern California. The new newspaper with a circ. of 320,000 plus is scheduled to debut Friday March 21 and will combine the editorial staff, production and distribution resources of two existing Spanish-language weeklies owned by Freedom: the Excelsior in Orange County and La Prensa, serving the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley’s. Both newspapers will cease publication.Unidos will also have an edition in the Los Angeles zone debuting March 28, which will focus on communities in Southeast Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley (UPDATED with comments from Freedom Communications and EPMG).
Why it matters: Since it was acquired by a private equity Group, Freedom Communications is practically the only major U.S. media company who is heavily investing in expanding its print media properties. This is the first Hispanic specific project they are undertaking.
Freedom Communications is launching a new Spanish-language weekly newspaper for Southern California, Unidos en el Sur de California. The new newspaper, scheduled to debut Friday March 21, will combine the editorial staff and production and distribution resources of the two existing Spanish-language weeklies owned by Freedom: the Excelsior in Orange County and La Prensa, serving the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley. Orlando Ramirez has been named publisher of Unidos and Tiffany O’Hare is the new publication’s General Manager. The final editions to publish under the Excelsior and La Prensa names run this Friday March 14.
Unidos will have a total circulation of 323,476.
Unidos en el Sur de California will include news pages with a local countywide focus, while also expanding coverage of regional, state, national, and international news of particular interest and importance to Hispanics. Unidos en el Sur de California debuts with the following three sections:“Noticias” (News), “Deportes” (Sports), and NEXT, an entertainment section targeting younger Hispanics with bilingual celebrity news, movie and music reviews, gossip, nightlife, fashion, and Twitter trends. A new website, unidossc.com, will also launch soon with breaking news and related information from Unidos en el Sur de California. UPDATED: Unidos publisher Orlando Ramirez tells Portada that “although the print publication is a weekly, we view the Unidos website as a breaking news operation where the Spanish-language reader can find up-to-the minute reporting on local and regional news. In addition, we also provide the gamut of sports and entertainment content that is updated daily. These include the latest happenings in the Mexican and international futbol leagues, coverage of major entertainment events, as well as staff-written blogs on parenting and the latest in the fan-boy world of video games, movies and video.
Four – zoned editions
Unidos en el Sur de California will publish four zoned editions every Friday, targeting Orange County, Inland Southern California, Coachella Valley and Los Angeles. The fourth Los Angeles zone, set to debut March 28, will focus on southeast Los Angeles and communities in the San Gabriel Valley. Together, the four zoned editions of Unidos will have a total circulation of 323,476 according to Freedom — over 100,000 greater than the current combined circ of Excelsior and La Prensa. UPDATE: A Freedom Communications spokesperson tells Portada that Unidos will also “circulate within The Press-Enterprise and Orange County Register. Circulation within Los Angeles Register is also part of our long-term plan.” The Los Angeles Register is a English-language daily Freedom is planning to introduce later this year in Los Angeles.
Enough home-delivered distribution?
Freedom will distribute the new weekly newspaper through businesses in areas with large Hispanic populations, including Hispanic grocers, clothing stores, toy stores, electronics stores, restaurants, beauty salons, coffee shops and entertainment venues. This indicates that the vast majority of Unidos publications is going to be distributed via racks. While Unidos will be published on Friday’s, a day liked by many retailers as many families do their purchases on the weekends, the amount of home-delivered circulation seems to be relatively low. Excelsior’s Jesus Cobian, told Portada last October that Excelsior had 26,000 copies in requested home delivery, which now will be converted into Unidos home-delivered distribution. (La Prensa Riverside, CA, has a circulation of 130,000 copies per week, the vast majority of them rack distributed.) UPDATE: “We have a equitable balance of paid and free distribution,” a Freedom communications spokesperson tells Portada. “Home delivered circulation has increased at a steady pace each year for Excelsior and La Prensa. The expanded distribution through retail locations in Hispanic-dominant communities is a very important means of delivering Unidos en el Sur de California.”
How does Unidos stack up against the competition?
Unidos 323,000 weekly circulation across a wide area of Southern California is impressive. However, its circulation is lower than that of Tribune’s Hoy Los Angeles Fin de Semana product, Hoy’s weekend guide providing lifestyle and entertainment information attuned to the way Latinos spend their weekends. It’s the largest and most complete carrier of late week pre-print packages in Southern California and the #1 Spanish-language home-delivered newspaper in the U.S. with a Saturday circulation of 814,000. Hoy Fin de Semana‘ competitor, impreMedia’s La Opinion Contigo has a weekend circulation of 255,091. Hoy Los Angeles publisher Roaldo Moran, tells Portada that the launch of Unidos en el Sur de California, “validates the good health of Spanish-language print media. It will help the industry because a larger number of properties will be promoting Hispanic print.” Moran adds that “creativity is a crucial factor in the success of new print media ventures nowadays.” UPDATE: The Freedom spokesperson notes that “Hoy and La Opinion covera core LA area, while Unidos serves a huge portion of the LA basin DMA, bringing together the growing Latino audience in Inland Southern California and Orange County with the core LA audience.”
Another strong contender in the Southern Californian Hispanic newspaper market, although with little editorial content, is El Clasificado a weekly classified newspaper published by EC Hispanic Media that originated in Los Angeles in 1998. Its weekly circulation increased last year from 500,000 to 510,000 reaching over 300 cities through 28,000 distribution points in Los Angeles, Central Valley and San Diego. (Check out Portada’s recent California market profile!).
UPDATED: Trevor Hansen, CEO of EPMG, tells Portada that “The EPMG Team is excited to see the new publication when it is debuted. We understand they have aggressive plans for distribution and market coverage. Our Team’s analysis of media really goes much deeper than just distribution though, in fact our primary evaluation revolves around unique content and community integration points. For us, the predictive nature of media ROI is highly contingent upon overall relevance, media intimacy, content U.S.P., community integrations and marketing; these of course should all be coordinated with a strong, strategic distribution model. So, we are anxious to see how the new publishers tackle the content equation to bring the vital Southern California Hispanic community a new media choice.”
Unidos is just the latest in a series of new publications from Freedom, acquired by private equity group 2100 Trust in 2012. The company is also launching a new daily newspaper serving Los Angeles (Los Angeles Register) which will be published and distributed using the resources of the OC Register, but will have its own LA office, with dedicated Los Angeles reporters covering local beats, according to Freedom CEO Aaron Kushner. Since purchasing Freedom in 2012, co-owners Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz have nearly doubled staff in the Register newsroom, launched the Long Beach Register as a new daily newspaper in August, purchased from Belo The Press-Enterprise )publisher of La Prensa Riverside) in Riverside, Calif. in November, debuted an enhanced edition of The Press-Enterprise with original reporting and a new Inland SoCal Register section in January, and launched the Desert Enterprise as a new weekly newspaper as part of its expanded service within Riverside County in February.However, the announcement about the launch of Unidos, comes as two of Freedom’s English-language community papers revert to a weekly frequency after about a year of a five-days-a-week schedule.