Telemundo gets key sweeps win in Miami

Apr 16, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Telemundo’s WSCV-TV was Miami’s No. 1 station in prime time across the three key demos in February for the first time in a major book.
The station beat not only perennial leader Univision but all the English-language broadcasters as well. WSCV won adults 18 to 34 with a 5.5 Nielsen Media Research rating, edging out Univision-owned WLTV with a 4.9. It also was No. 1 among adults 18 to 49 with a 5.7 rating (WLTV was No. 2 with a 4.8) and among adults 25 to 54 with a 5.5 rating (WLTV was No. 2 with a 5.2).
Telemundo President and CEO Jim McNamara said WSCV was in eighth place just a year ago.
The station is already reaping the benefits of being on top in the demos, with Mr. McNamara jokingly referring to WSCV General Manager Luis Fernandez Rocha as “station manager of the year.”
“We’ve gotten younger and younger this year. Our audience is getting younger, where advertisers want to be,” Mr. Rocha said.
The station is now charging more for spots, Mr. Rocha said, because, “Now [that] we’re No. 1, we’re basically selling with the No. 1 ratings in town.”
“On the national side, we’re starting to get agencies who weren’t paying attention to us, and now these agencies are calling saying, `Who are you guys?”’ he said. “Our competitors dropped more than 25 percent in many dayparts. Although the national business is soft, we’re getting a lot more of the chunk of national business. We’re taking it from the market.”
Mr. Rocha said adding newscasts has also boosted WSCV, giving it more visibility in the market. WSCV added a one-hour 6 a.m. newscast in January, and the station now has four newscasts a day. In a few months, WSCV will add 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekend newscasts.
One general manager in Miami said the Telemundo growth is not a threat to other stations in the market but the February numbers do indicate a shift within the Spanish-language audience.
“Telemundo has gotten some audience away from Univision because of the novela,” the general manager said.
Miami is only part of Telemundo’s larger picture. The network is beginning to dig out from under the long-dominant Univision network. Mr. McNamara, who has only been CEO for a year and a half, joked, “We’re always last.”
But this time, the network seems to be gaining momentum. Much of it is because of the strength of the network’s choice of prime-time telenovelas-soap operas that air five times a week and end after several months.
The momentum began about seven months ago when Telemundo started a new novela, “Betty La Fea,” which means “Betty the ugly one.” That show became a “lightning rod,” Mr. McNamara said.
“The whole cast has become quite popular in the Spanish world.” Mr. McNamara said. “It was a rip-roaring comedy, which is highly unusual. Most novelas are heavy-duty melodramas.”
The show had a “spillover effect” and helped boost the ratings of other Telemundo shows, he said.
On April 4 Telemundo launched the novela “La Baby Sister” at 8:30 p.m. (ET), which Mr. McNamara thinks will take off the way “Betty La Fea” did. While most novelas are an hour, “La Baby Sister,” produced in Colombia, is 90 minutes and will last six months. The network is also home to “Terra Nostra,” a popular show about the Italian immigration to Brazil that was already a hit in Spain, Brazil and Italy. It runs through June.
“The lineup [on Telemundo] now is as good as anything you’ll see on an English-language channel,” Mr. McNamara said.
Arthur Schreibman, Initiative Media executive vice president and director of national broadcast for the Eastern region, credited Mr. McNamara with changing the focus of Telemundo’s novelas to appeal to younger viewers.
“They were more traditional and political. You were getting an older viewer, but as they got more risque and sexier, you attract a younger set,” Mr. Schreibman said. “Anytime you can attract a young viewer you’re going to attract advertisers.”
During his tenure, Mr. McNamara has spearheaded major deals to acquire international programming as well as create co-production opportunities. This month, Telemundo signed a five-year deal with the Brazilian company Globo, the largest producer of novelas in Latin America.
The deal gives Telemundo access to at least 300 hours of Globo’s programming a year. Telemundo will co-produce Spanish-language novelas with Globo.
“We basically tried out their product, and it’s done really well on our air,” said Manuel Martinez, Telemundo’s executive vice president of programming and production. “We’re planning to bring up things like [novela] `Uga Uga,’ which did really well in Brazil.”
Telemundo also signed deals in the past year with Colombian network Caracol and production company RTI to co-produce 10 novelas and with Mexico’s Argos Communications to produce more than 1,200 hours of comedy, news, drama, reality and novelas over a three-year period.
All of these deals have been made with one goal in mind-to beat longtime leader Univision.
“We’re hoping to beat them,” Mr. Martinez said. “We basically are doing co-productions with all the best producers from Latin America, which includes Globo, RTI, Inca Films in Peru and Argos. It’s the first time we’re dedicating ourselves to co-producing novelas.”
However, despite Telemundo’s success in Miami, the network still has a long way to go to catch Univision.
Mr. Schreibman said Telemundo is headed in the right direction.
“They’re pulling 20 ratings easily in the Hispanic market, and Telemundo rarely sees a double digit,” he said. “They had new ownership a couple of years ago, and what we’re seeing now is the impact the new management is bringing to revise the schedule. That’s impacting the ratings.”