Univision’s New Vision: CEO Wade Davis Pushing for Company to Be "Global Leader" in Spanish Language Content

Wade Davis and Donna Speciale
Courtesy of Univision

Wade Davis; Donna Speciale

The PrendeTV streaming service will launch next week, backed by a $100 million marketing push.

A year after being acquired by an investor group led by former Viacom CFO Wade Davis, and just a few months after officially closing the deal, Univision’s future is taking shape.

The Spanish language TV giant plans to reinvent itself as a multi-platform juggernaut with global aspirations. Davis, who is now Univision’s CEO, discussed his vision for the company alongside the company’s new ad sales chief Donna Speciale at a virtual event Wednesday.

"We will be taking Univision from being the leader in U.S. Hispanic media, to being the global leader in Spanish language media," Davis said. "We are going to be making investments in content that Spanish language television in the U.S., and maybe the world, has never seen."

One of the pillars of the strategy is a major expansion into streaming video. The company says that its streaming service, PrendeTV, will officially launch the week of March 29, with some 35 channels and 30,000 hours of content, including programming from Univision’s vast library of Spanish-language soaps and movies. Speciale said that Univision will spend $100 million in marketing to launch the service.

PrendeTV will be free and ad-supported, but will focus exclusively on premium Spanish-language content. A number of companies, including McDonalds, Dunkin, Clorox, Chase, and Coca Cola have signed on as launch sponsors.

"Our audience is growing, our content is growing, out footprint is growing," said Speciale, who joined Univision after leading ad sales for WarnerMedia. "Our message today is a simple invitation: grow with us."

Speciale pitched the company’s prowess in Spanish-language entertainment, its sports rights (including soccer), and its leadership in the Spanish-language news space, led by its morning show Despierta América, which Speciale said will soon expand to Sundays.

"This is another missed opportunity [for marketers], this is our Today show or GMA, but the U.S. Hispanic community doesn’t watch those shows,” Speciale said. "There are more Hispanics watching DA than GMA and Today combined."

And while the Wednesday event wasn’t technically an upfront (Univision has something planned for May), the message was clearly being sent with marketers in mind.

Univision, which was founded as the Spanish International Network in 1962 before rebranding as Univision in 1987, has long been a leader in Spanish-language TV in the U.S., but has faced increased competition from the NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo in recent years.

Now, under its new ownership, it is trying to thread a needle: Playing up its existing scale, history and heritage while positioning itself as something of a startup, framing its pitch to advertisers as a ground floor opportunity.

'As much as anything, we are building this platform for you, and we want you to be on the journey with us from day one," Davis said during the presentation.