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Miami Beach — Univision, the Spanish language broadcaster that already frequently attracts viewers who put it along side top U.S. networks in the ratings, is moving to cross over even more among bilingual and English language viewers. It will shortly begin to offer the option of closed captions in English for all of its primetime programming, according to Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks, who spoke Tuesday at NATPE.
Conde also said that by the end of this year Univision Corporation will expand from its current offerings on three networks to 12 networks, many of them more targeted than the typical network which goes after a very wide audience.
Closed captioning will begin with the premiere of Univision’s first production of a novella it produced under its own auspices, El Talismán, on Jan. 30. Conde says they chose to start with the evening telenovela genre because of its broad appeal “that crosses culture and language.”
Some programming not only will be captioned but will be partly in English. In some cases it will mix Spanish and English.
“We evolved to a point now where when people look at ratings for ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, they also have to think about Univision,” says Conde.
Last week, Univision reported that it was the third highest ranked U.S. network in primetime among adults 18 to 34, out-delivering CBS and NBC in that much sought after demographic. Univision also says it out-delivered one or more of the big four English language networks on four out of seven nights last week among all adults 18 to 49 years of age.
This TV season, Univision says it has been the number one rated network on Friday nights in 16 out of 18 weeks among adults 18 to 34.
Conde says that they soon expect to translate that growing audience, which is younger than what U.S. networks are getting, into higher advertising revenue.
He says unlike other American networks, their audience (and the Spanish language influenced population) is on the rise. He says advertisers are recognizing that Univision offers “the ability to grow their business which is very attractive to them.”
?The English translations will also be available Monday through Friday, on Televisa’s novella Una Familia Con Suerte (A Fortunate Family), El Talismán and La Que No Podia Amar (The One That Couldn’t Love).
Blanca Soto, former Miss Mexico, stars in El Talisman, about a father whose destiny is changed after he loses a poker game. Soto was also in novella Eva Luna, and the 2010 movie Dinner for Schmucks.
This week Univision unveiled a new set for its expanded newscasts which feature anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas and announced it has upgraded its studio with state-of-the-art technology just in time for the election season. Univision shortly will have an election special with candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich tied to the upcoming Florida primary.
Conde says until now politicians have not recognized the importance of the Latin audience and have not spent as much per capita on the Spanish language stations. He said they will make a major push this election cycle to gain parity with English language broadcasters.
He also says they are not concerned about competitors, and welcome the announcement this week that Fox International Channels and Columbia’s RCN TV will launch a new Hispanic service in the U.S. with a special focus on markets with large Spanish speaking populations such as L.A. New York, Miami and Chicago.
“Competition is good for everyone,” says Conde. “It helps all of us. Its another voice in the market talking about the growth and opportunity available. What’s the phrase? The high tide raises all boats.”
On Feb. 4, Univision will also debut a new weekend afternoon cooking show Delicioso, featuring cooking authority Ingrid Hoffmann, who will be joined by co-host Maggie Jiménez. They are also expanding and relaunching a companion web site and offing a new mobile app to provide users with recipes for Latin cuisine.
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