By Stuart Elliott
For several years, networks and channels with programming aimed at Hispanic viewers have been increasing their presence during the annual television industry ritual known as upfront week, when advertisers and agencies are wooed before the coming fall season. Now, as creators of online video content are seeking the same money from Madison Avenue, they, too, are talking about their efforts to reach Spanish-speaking consumers.
Among the participants during the Digital Content NewFronts in New York this week — 17 presentations, from Monday through Friday, under the aegis of the Interactive Advertising Bureau — was Univision Communications, which took part in the NewFronts for the first time.
Univision executives on Wednesday discussed initiatives like Uvideos, a digital video network that offers original Web series as well as clips about the popular telenovelas that are the mainstays of the Univision broadcast network. (The clips are said to be spoiler-free; telenovelas are all about the cliffhangers.)
Some general-market media companies devoted bits of their presentations to the original digital content being created for Hispanics. For instance, on Tuesday, Hulu touched on Hulu Latino and CBS Interactive, part of the CBS Corporation, previewed plans to introduce in the fall a version of CNET for Spanish-speaking consumers.
Many presenters from the media mainstream “actually have a decent to strong-and-growing multicultural strategy,” said Marla Skiko, executive vice president and director for digital innovation at SMG Multicultural, part of the Starcom MediaVest Group unit of the Publicis Groupe.
“But they have so much to announce during the NewFronts, it gets only a mention,” Ms. Skiko said. “I think they could blow it out and make it bigger; it’s a story waiting to be told.”
Randall Rothenberg, president and chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who attended the Univision presentation, said the Hispanic market is “indicative of the opportunity, and challenge, for digital.”
“Unlike other media, digital media can do everything because, by definition, you have global reach and theoretically unlimited programming and advertising inventory,” Mr. Rothenberg said.
At the same time, “the challenge is how to pick your shots,” he added, “and decide what to promote to whom at what time.”
Jim Lanzone, president of CBS Interactive, said in an interview that he was eager to introduce the Spanish-language version of CNET, which “will be its own distinct site” and offer Hispanics “a multimedia experience across all platforms.”
“It will not just be a machine translating our English content into Spanish,” he added, but rather will offer culturally specific content aimed at the 50 million person audience in the United States as well as Spanish-speakers in Latin America and elsewhere around the world.
And CBS Interactive is working on a Spanish-language version of GameSpot, Mr. Lanzone said, which is its Web site with content aimed at video game players.
The goal to beef up Spanish-language content at CBS Interactive is part of an ambitious agenda to add a variety of original content across its portfolio of more than two dozen disparate Web sites. For instance, the site devoted to CBS television shows, cbs.com, will add online series meant to complement two of the network’s dramas: “Baker Street Irregulars,” based on “Elementary,” and “Person of Interest: Animated,” based on “Person of Interest.”
“Even our musical act was one of our shows,” Mr. Lanzone joked, referring to the performance by the rock band Phoenix that concluded the presentation at the Hudson Theater in Midtown Manhattan. The band’s 45-minute set doubled as a webcast of the cbs.com original series “Live on Letterman,” which typically is streamed live from the Ed Sullivan Theater after that evening’s taping of “Late Show With David Letterman.”
At the Univision Communications presentation, at the Brasserie restaurant, the focus was on expansion. The company’s executives discussed original Web series, including “Salseras,” being introduced with the Web music company Vevo, about a fierce collegiate salsa-dancing competition; five channels being added to Uvideos, devoted to cooking, comedy, celebrities, fashion, beauty and lifestyle; and a new digital platform, to be called Flama, aimed at younger Hispanics who are part of the so-called millennial generation.
And Univision is opening an “idea lab,” said Cesar Conde, president of the Univision Networks division of the company, “dedicated to the creation of made-for-Web content, in Spanish and English.”
Univision will also offer advertisers opportunities at “transmedia storytelling that transcends platforms,” Mr. Conde said, combining content in genres like reality competition and sports that will be on television, on radio, online and in social media.
It was “very important for us” to take part in the NewFronts this year, Mr. Conde said in an interview after the presentation, to underline that “everything we’re thinking about, we’re thinking about with our digital hat on.”
“Univision, as a leader, has to be here,” he added, because “Hispanics overindex on everything technology.” His reference was to Nielsen research indicating that, for example, 72 percent of Hispanics own smartphones and they watch 62 percent more online video than white non-Hispanic Americans.
Ad spending for online video was estimated last year at $2.9 billion, a fraction of the $64.5 billion in ad spending on television, but it is growing at a far faster rate than its traditional counterpart. In 2013, according to eMarketer forecasts, the totals will increase to $4 billion for online video, up 41.1 percent from 2012, and $66.4 billion for television, up 2.8 percent from 2012.
The potential for online video was further underscored on Wednesday when, at the Condé Nast Entertainment presentation during the NewFronts, executives announced additions to their digital video network. The channels inspired by magazines like Glamour and GQ will be joined by channels suggested by Epicurious, Style.com, Teen Vogue, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired.
Also on Wednesday, AwesomenessTV, a YouTube-based video channel aimed at teenagers, agreed to be acquired by DreamWorks Animation SKG for about $33 million in cash and up to $117 million in possible additional payments.
Source: The New York Times