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Charting Broadcast Upfronts

May 22, 2006  •  Post A Comment

For the broadcast television industry it was the week that manifested a year of seismic change.

Advertising buyers made the annual trek to TV networks’ upfront sales presentations, where new technologies and new networks competed for attention with the usual rollout of new shows.

As in past years, networks jostled schedules to get an edge on one another. They were joined by The CW and MyNetworkTV, new competitors on the broadcast scene. Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo made their first upfront pitches as members of the same ratings system that measures CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC.

One theme stood out: Television networks embraced all the new ways of watching TV and made them part of sales pitches to advertisers. The upfront presentations highlighted network shows and promotions on the Web, cellphones and other gadgets. Television executives may not yet have figured out how to make money distributing shows in new ways, but they’re not waiting around for someone else to figure it out.

For all the changes, network chiefs staked their businesses on what they know best: seeking shows that appeal to audiences and getting advertisers to bite.

“Wireless is useless if you’re hitless,” CBS Corp. Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves said at his network’s presentation in New York.

The shifts in the industry seemed to encourage a mood of détente that in recent years has emerged among network executives who face similar challenges as the TV landscape changes.

Mr. Moonves this year made a point of defending the viability of the business model underpinning network television, noting in his presentation to advertisers that broadcasters are bolstering profit at the media companies that own them.

Jon Nesvig, president of sales for Fox Broadcasting, reminded advertisers that TV is the best place to create awareness, build brands and persuade consumers to buy.

It’s a message networks must continue to reinforce as they struggle to stem the migration of advertising money to new media.

Here is a network-by-network look at the upfront presentations:



ABC

The schedule: ABC is adding five new dramas, four new comedies and a night of college football to its fall lineup. The network plans to roll out 11 new and returning series for midseason, an increase of four shows over its backup roster from last year.

“It’s a more expensive schedule, but the audience is more demanding now,” said ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson.

ABC’s scheduling is more aggressive this year than last as the network transplants its hit medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” to Thursday nights, where it will take on CBS’s “CSI,” the highest-rated show on Thursday. Shifting “Grey’s” strengthens ABC’s pitch to advertisers, who prize Thursdays as a chance to reach weekend consumers.

ABC will try to use “Desperate Housewives” on Sundays at 9 p.m. and “Grey’s” on Thursdays to leverage new shows, Mr. McPherson said.

ABC is replacing Thursday 10 p.m. newsmagazine “Primetime” with the new drama “Six Degrees” from “Lost” executive producer J.J. Abrams. “Primetime” is not currently scheduled and will be used to “fill holes throughout the season,” Mr. McPherson said.

Debuting drama “Brothers & Sisters” will follow “Desperate Housewives” on Sundays.

The network will not air repeats of Wednesday performer “Lost” during the new TV season. “Lost” will run for seven episodes in the fall before taking a break to make room on the schedule for drama “Day Break.” “Lost” will return in late January or early February and will run original episodes for the rest of the season.

The pitch: In two years ABC has increased its ratings 25 percent among viewers 18 to 49, said Mike Shaw, the network’s president of sales and marketing. ABC is also the No. 1 network among wealthier viewers, he said.

Successful series have underpinned ABC’s revival, Mr. McPherson said. “Appointment television is becoming synonymous with ABC,” he said.

Digital demo: Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, opened ABC’s presentation by staking claim to a leadership position in the digital age, calling ABC the most “innovative brand” in TV.

She kicked off her talk by reminding the audience that Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of iTunes owner Apple Computer, is on the board of ABC parent The Walt Disney Co. Because of ABC’s special relationship with the Apple boss, the network has access to all the latest gadgets for viewing TV programs, she said.

Ms. Sweeney stood next to a cloth-covered object that she introduced as the “next generation of personal viewing technology.” The device she was about to reveal, she said, will be able to capitalize on the social networking craze taking place on the Web and be used in the home or the office. She pulled off the cloth, unveiling an old television.

“‘Lost’ is only possible on iTunes because of its popularity on TV,” Ms. Sweeney said. Then she announced ABC is expanding to other platforms-beyond iPods and the Web-with an original series for cellphones called “Lost Diaries.”

Ms. Sweeney also mentioned in her digital discussion that ABC.com has received more than 2 million hits in the two and a half weeks since it started offering free, ad-supported streaming of some shows. In addition, 87 percent of users remembered the advertisers associated with the programs, she said.

Best showbiz moments: There were several, from Mary J. Blige performing U2’s “One,” to William Shatner singing a “Beautiful Boys” parody, during which the network trotted out all its male stars.

ABC also screened a “Grey’s Anatomy” spoof that featured series regulars Patrick Dempsey, Isaiah Washington and James Pickens Jr. seductively showering one another for co-star Chandra Wilson. The biggest surprise was Mr. McPherson gamely doing the cha-cha with Anna Trebunskaya, one of the professional dancers from “Dancing With the Stars.” The dance got a standing ovation. -Christopher Lisotta



CBS

The schedule: CBS plans to premiere four new shows in fall 2006, a relatively low number that reflects the strength of last year’s six debuting fall series.

The network will launch the new programs in “protected” time periods to give them the best shot at success, CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves said. In unveiling the new schedule to reporters last Wednesday, Mr. Moonves called CBS the “most stable” network.

While competitors saw the bulk of their rookie shows fail this season, most of CBS’s first-season programs, including fall debuts “How I Met Your Mother,” “Criminal Minds,” “Close to Home” and “Ghost Whisperer,” plus midseason’s “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “The Unit,” will be back for 2006-07.

In what is the end of a programming era, CBS is replacing its “Sunday Night Movie” with some of its stronger series, including the veteran procedural dramas “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace,” to challenge ABC’s dominance of the night among 18- to 49-year-old viewers. ABC’s decision to move “Grey’s Anatomy” from Sunday to Thursday and NBC’s strategy to pull series from its Sunday schedule to make way for NFL football will benefit CBS, Mr. Moonves said.

The network will pick up four shows for midseason, including sitcom “King of Queens,” which was given a full 22-episode order. CBS ordered two new dramas and one new comedy for midseason runs.

The pitch: “Think CBS First.” Sure, ABC and Fox run some flashy shows, but “to get the maximum reach, you buy over a whole schedule,” Mr. Moonves said. “You want to buy CBS first.”

CBS borrowed Allstate’s motto and pitchman Dennis Haysbert, who also stars in CBS drama “The Unit,” to make its point. In a filmed commercial spoof showing harried ad sales executives making the wrong choices with their buys, Mr. Haysbert assured them, “You’re in good hands with CBS.”

Digital demo: “If you’re looking for the ultimate media platform, think CBS first.” In a vid
eo montage, CBS argued its foundation of CBS-themed Web sites and its deals with companies like Comcast, Google and Verizon put it on “the forefront of every model.” But what makes CBS’s digital strategy work is programming. “Wireless is useless if you’re hitless,” Mr. Moonves said. The network also touted its success this year with webcasts of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which made headlines in March when economists worried that fans watching at work would cost U.S. companies $3.8 billion in productivity. “If they want to give us $3.8 billion, we’d cancel the whole tournament, Mr. Moonves said.

Taunts: CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler poked fun at the fuss her competitors have been making about digital extensions of their brands and the market’s interest in the telenovela format. She introduced a video spoof featuring “Criminal Minds”-branded ringtones (a scream, literally) and a musical recording by series star Mandy Patinkin singing murderous takes on classics, such as “Stranglers in the Night.” She also promised “CSI: Ay: Ay,” a soapy, Spanish-language edition of the CBS franchise. Ms. Tassler made a point of saying that those were, of course, just jokes.

Best performances: A tie. The leads of the Broadway show “Jersey Boys” performed at the CBS upfront-which was held at Carnegie Hall-during the intermission of their show’s matinee. As soon as they finished, the actors rushed back to their theater five blocks away in time to perform in the second act of their show. Mariah Carey brought the house down singing her hit “We Belong Together.” -Christopher Lisotta



The CW

The schedule: The CW’s inaugural lineup is made up almost entirely of programming from the soon-to-be-expired broadcasters UPN and The WB. Just one new drama and one new comedy will be on the fall schedule.

The network is anchoring each night with at least one UPN or WB program that is already the No. 1 or No. 2 show in its time period among men 18 to 34 and/or women 18 to 34, said Dawn Ostroff, The CW’s president of entertainment.

The WB’s Tuesday 8 p.m. comedic drama “Gilmore Girls” and UPN’s Wednesday 8 p.m. reality franchise “America’s Next Top Model” are remaining in their respective time periods next season. The CW is also keeping intact The WB’s Thursday night of dramas “Smallville” and “Supernatural” and UPN’s Friday night pro wrestling block.

The WB’s veteran show “7th Heaven,” which was assumed to be going out of production, is being resurrected for an 11th season on Mondays at 8 p.m., as previously reported (TelevisionWeek, May 15). Former WB time period competitor “One Tree Hill” is now the lead-out for “Top Model” on Wednesdays.

The biggest change is The CW’s Sunday night schedule, which creates one night of African American-themed sitcoms from UPN’s current Monday and Thursday lineups. Leading off the night at 7 p.m. is the critically acclaimed comedy “Everybody Hates Chris” from creator Chris Rock.

The WB’s reality series “Beauty and The Geek” will act as midseason bridge programming between the two installments of “Top Model.”

The CW’s sole new midseason pickup is Lions Gate TV’s first foray into broadcast series television, the soapy drama “Hidden Palms” (formerly known as “Palm Springs”) from “Dawson’s Creek” creator Kevin Williamson. Although it was not mentioned during The CW’s upfront presentation, 20th Century Fox announced last Thursday the comedy “Reba” is getting a 13-episode pickup from The CW.

The pitch: The CW will be for viewers, by viewers and about viewers, Ms. Ostroff said. The network is focusing on adults 18 to 34, a demographic she defined as a racially diverse group that wants to be known, wants to be unique, but also wants to be part of a community. To better reach the audience, each night The CW will employ “content wraps,” or mini TV shows within shows that run during commercials.

The closed-ended short reality series, which will be broken into three segments, give advertisers product placement opportunities. The new network is “reinventing the commercial break,” Ms. Ostroff said.

The network will also allow viewers to create network spots, as previously reported (TelevisionWeek, May 1). Viewers will be able to go to The CW’s Web site and use their own photos to create the 15-second spots, called “Famous for 15.”

Digital demo: Digital brand extensions will be show-specific and built out from all of The CW’s programming.

In a move to personalize the network, former “Top Model” winner Yoanna House is joining The CW as a platform-crossing “host,” serving as an on-air personality and an online presence who will be the new face of the network, Ms. Ostroff said.

Taunts: Perhaps because she had so much to cover in The CW’s first upfront, Ms. Ostroff didn’t spend any time during her presentation cutting down her competitors.

Best performances: The Black Eyed Peas opened the upfront, while Chris Rock promised in a brief stand-up routine that “The CW” was the network’s permanent moniker.

“We’re never going to change the name ever again,” he said. He also said his show “Chris” would up its visibility because for the new season the title character “is going to be played by a white girl.”

Mr. Rock suggested the network’s motto be “The new CW-We ain’t bulls**t,” before giving the most direct upfront plea to advertisers in television history: “You better spend some motherf***ing money.” -Christopher Lisotta



Fox

The schedule: Fox plans to debut three new dramas and two new comedies in the fall, keeping most returning series in their current positions to promote stability in its schedule and maintain audience loyalty.

The new shows are designed to hold onto the younger viewers who favor the network while also appealing to a broader audience, said Fox President of Entertainment Peter Liguori.

Fox, which is owned by News Corp., plans to repeat its strategy of launching the new season several weeks before baseball broadcasts start. Last year that move paid off, with shows including “Prison Break” and “Bones” performing well.

Fall series will premiere in mid- to late August to fit in five to seven episodes before the baseball playoffs, Mr. Liguori said. Fox hopes the first block of episodes will interest viewers enough that they’ll tune in after baseball ends in October.

In January Fox will use its special sports programming, including the college football Bowl Championship Series, to help launch its midseason powerhouses “American Idol” and “24.”

In May, Fox plans to debut its summer programming directly behind its season finales.

The new thriller drama “Vanished” will run with “limited interruptions” in the fourth quarter of 2006, he said.

Among Fox’s returning shows is “The OC,” which will premiere in its Thursday 9 p.m. time slot after baseball ends.

“We’ll have more original episodes in more contiguous blocks,” Mr. Liguori said of the teen drama.

“Duets,” a music reality competition from “American Idol’s” Simon Cowell in which established singers are paired with unknowns, will air for four weeks in “The OC’s” time slot and on Fridays before the Major League Baseball playoffs start.

This fall also will mark the debut of Fox’s new Saturday late-night talk show, “Talk Show With Spike Feresten,” which premieres Sept. 16 at midnight, after “MadTV.”

The pitch: For the second year in a row, Fox will be No. 1 for the season in adults 18 to 49, and for the seventh season out of eight, the network is No. 1 in adults 18 to 34. For the current season, the network is accomplishing this feat without the Super Bowl or a high-rated World Series.

Veteran series “Idol,” “House,” “24” and “Family Guy” all have seen double-digit growth this season in the sought-after 18 to 49 demographic.

Next season Fox will return more series to its schedule than at any time in its history, but Mr. Liguori said the network is not sitting on its laurels.

“We’re driv
en, we’re competitive and we’re ready,” he said.

Digital demo: Just a year after News Corp. bosses gave the company the mandate to increase its Web presence, the company already surpasses its biggest competitors, according to Ross Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media.

Aside from the Fox network sites, the social networking site MySpace.com, the gaming site IGN.com and film site RottenTomatoes.com are all available to advertisers for one-stop shopping through the company’s integrated marketing unit.

Fox’s Web page views per month are more than double its closest media competitor, Disney, and even surpassed the page views per month of Microsoft, AOL and Google. Mr. Levinsohn said that 75 million people visited the company’s sites in April and that News Corp.’s sites reach almost 50 percent of 18- to 49-year-olds.

“Our sites are where your most prized viewers create, consume and share content,” he said.

Taunts: “Family Guy” star Alex Borstein and the show’s creator Seth MacFarlane ribbed the other networks during an opening Las Vegas-like dance number. “‘Til Death” star Brad Garrett did some pointed stand-up, saying the vibe was different than upfronts with CBS’s Leslie Moonves, who he noted saw his career peak on “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Mr. Garrett also said that the presence of “Idol” host Paula Abdul at the upfront meant “Bellevue [Hospital] has a shuttle bus.”

Ms. Abdul’s fellow judge Mr. Cowell told Mr. Liguori he was lucky the upfront audience was “not voting” on Fox’s stuffy, marathon upfront presentation.

Best showbiz moments: Reigning “American Idol” Carrie Underwood performed and the Rutgers University marching band helped introduce Fox’s top sports executives. -Christopher Lisotta



MyNetworkTV

The schedule: MyNetworkTV, which News Corp. put together after the announcement of The CW earlier this year, is betting the farm on evening soap operas.

A 52-week schedule of English-language telenovelas with no repeats is intended to keep audiences hooked and distinguish MyTV from the competition.

“No other broadcaster or cable network can make that claim,” said Bob Cesa, executive VP of advertising sales for News Corp.’s Twentieth Television, which is producing all of MyTV’s programming.

As previously announced, the entire 8 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday MyTV schedule will be programmed with 13-week-long serials.

That strategy will test U.S. audiences’ taste for the telenovela format that has propelled Spanish-language networks for years. The network plans to run its telenovelas under two banners: “Desire” and “Secret Obsessions.”

Starting Sept. 5, MyNetworkTV will launch “Desire” at 8 p.m. with the program “Table for Three,” followed by the debut of “Secret Obsessions” at 9 p.m. with “Fashion House,” starring Bo Derek.

“Three” and “Fashion” will run all original episodes uninterrupted for the first 13 weeks of the season.

MyTV executives didn’t discuss any other programming formats planned for the 2006-07 season.

The pitch: MyTV sought to assure advertisers that production values on the evening soap operas will be high and that the network will reach 90 percent of U.S. viewers by its debut.

Because MyTV’s programming will be produced by Twentieth, there will be no “third-party” interference when it comes to product placement, Mr. Cesa said.

Digital demo: MyTV will tap into alliances with the News Corp.-owned social networking Web site MySpace.com and provide users with what the network called thousands of original content sequences.

MyTV’s Web site, which will be available through local stations’ sites, will try to drum up interest in the telenovelas by hosting an online casting call. Users also will be able drag and drop video clips from the network into e-mails and cellphones.

Taunt: A timeline that began with the Feb. 22 announcement of the new network featured a reference to “aspiring actor” Leslie Moonves, who was said to be starring in an upcoming MyTV telenovela. Mr. Moonves’ status was listed as “still negotiating” with the network.

Best showbiz moment: Singer Sheryl Crow, whose song “Always on Your Side” will be used as a theme for “Desire,” closed the presentation with a three-song set. Ms. Crow sang a revised version of her song “A Change Will Do You Good” by adding the line “I want MyNetworkTV.” -Christopher Lisotta



NBC

The schedule: NBC picked up 10 new series-six dramas and four comedies. Four of the dramas and two of the comedies are scheduled to premiere in the fall.

That’s the same number of new series NBC introduced last fall, but an additional drama and an additional comedy have replaced fall 2005’s two reality debuts. While NBC is not debuting any new reality series on the fall schedule, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said the company has some “secret” reality show concepts under way.

The biggest change in NBC’s schedule is the network’s debut of NFL football on Sunday nights. Football pre-show “Football Night in America” will displace the 7 p.m. (ET) Sunday edition of newsmagazine “Dateline,” which moves to Saturday at 8 p.m.

Coverage of the game itself replaces the canceled “The West Wing,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Crossing Jordan.” “Criminal Intent” moves to Fridays at 10 p.m., while “Jordan” is held for midseason.

Calling comedy a “challenged genre,” Mr. Reilly stuck to the same strategy he used last season, putting only four comedies on the fall schedule. NBC is moving up its Thursday 9 p.m. comedy block of “My Name Is Earl” and “The Office” to 8 p.m., while introducing a new comedy block on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

Aside from Wednesdays, NBC is launching new shows at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with its 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours staying mostly intact.

“The heavy lifting in our marketing efforts is going to be at 9 o’clock,” Mr. Reilly said.

The pitch: Self-awareness. NBC executives understand that some of the network’s franchise shows have faltered and its lineup “lacks breadth,” Mr. Reilly said.

With Sunday dedicated to football, NBC will focus on Monday through Friday programming with its marketing for the new season, he said.

Digital demo: Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal Television Group, took over the upfront reins from Mr. Reilly to deliver a pitch for the company’s TV 360 initiative, which will link Web and cellphone features to every show.

NBC plans to launch broadband channel DotComedy.com this summer. That project will feature user-generated material, classic TV comedies and clips from NBC’s prime-time and late-night programming, including the early years of “Late Show With David Letterman.”

NBC Universal will launch FirstLook.com, which will focus on NBC and its cable networks USA, Sci Fi and Bravo. Those networks will debut online up to four episodes of their series each year.

NBC has already come up with ideas to put its shows on digital platforms and directed advertisers to NBCUMarketplace.com, Mr. Zucker said. Examples include an online series about cars with “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, a Web-based “Deal or No Deal” model search and animated comic strip clips based on the characters from new drama “Heroes.”

Taunts: The jibes at NBC’s presentation were mostly self-deprecating. “Deal or No Deal” host Howie Mandel joked that the network may have overprogrammed failed reality series “Celebrity Cooking Challenge.” Series regular B.J. Novak of “The Office” noted he was the highest-paid temp in television “except for Kevin Reilly.”

Best sports moment: NBC’s new NFL football sportscaster team, including former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden, came onstage at New York’s Radio City Music Hall brandishing autographed footballs. Former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth and former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis each bet the other $100 he could throw a football into the huge theater’s first balcony. Mr. Bettis made it on his first throw, Mr.
Collinsworth on his second. -Christopher Lisotta



Telemundo

The schedule: Telemundo, the Spanish-language network owned by NBC Universal, plans to stick with its weeknight prime-time staple of telenovelas. On weekends, the network is taking aim at rival Univision’s prime-time lineup by premiering three series, including a variety show and a Spanish-language version of NBC hit “Deal or No Deal.”

“On Saturday we sensed a weakness,” said Ramon Escobar, Telemundo’s executive VP of network entertainment. He described Univision’s long-running Saturday variety show “Sabado Gigante” as “a tired show” and said, “Every show has its run.”

“We need to be very aggressive on Saturday and Sunday,” Mr. Escobar said. “We didn’t have the horses and the architecture in place a year ago, but now we do.”

In a bid to knock Univision’s weekend lineup off its perch, Telemundo will air its own variety show, called “El Gran Show,” Saturdays 7-9 p.m. (ET).

On Sundays, Telemundo will air “Vas o No Vas,” the Spanish-language version of “Deal or No Deal.” It will run Sundays from 7 to 9:30 p.m., followed by the half-hour comedy “Seguro y Urgente,” which tells the story of a messenger who gets emotionally involved in the lives of the people to whom he delivers packages.

Among the telenovelas slated for prime time is “La Viuda de Blanco,” about a woman trying to clear her name after a stint in prison, scheduled to air 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Novela “Dame Chocolate,” which chronicles the life of an unattractive woman whose life changes after she inherits a fortune, airs at 8 p.m. weeknights; and “Madre Luna,” the story of a woman who falls in love with a man half her age, follows at 9 p.m.

Other telenovelas slated to air on the network sometime during the season include “Marina,” about a young woman who finds herself among the wealthy in Acapulco, Mexico, and discovers love; and “Zorro: La Espada y la Rosa,” a series about the masked hero that’s jointly produced with Sony Pictures Television International and Zorro Productions.

Meanwhile, mun2, Telemundo’s cable network aimed at English-speaking Hispanics, said last Tuesday it will debut three programs during the 2006-07 season, including “The Chica Project,” a half-hour reality series aimed at young Hispanic females; and “Have U Cine,” a monthly movie series that will feature commentary from big-name Spanish-language entertainers. “Hecho en Heaven” is a dating show in which six men and six woman use astrology, pickup lines and powers of seduction to land dates.

The pitch: After years of losing ratings and promising last year to turn things around, Telemundo President Don Browne told his upfront audience that the network is roaring back with TV shows that were created specifically for Hispanic audiences in the United States. (Rival Univision buys TV shows that were originally intended for audiences in Mexico or Venezuela).

Because Telemundo owns the shows it airs, it has greater flexibility to develop new revenue opportunities, such as delivering shows to iPods and cellphones.

“I promised last year that we would perform, and we have delivered on that promise,” Mr. Browne told the crowd, citing year-to-year ratings increases in key demographics.

Digital demo: Like its English-language sibling NBC, Telemundo is embracing the digital age as part of NBCU’s TV 360 initiative to tie the Internet and cellphones with the networks’ TV shows.

Earlier this month Telemundo announced a partnership with Yahoo to create YahooTelemundo.com, a Web site designed to be a main destination for Spanish-language Internet surfers. The new site will look to combine video and other information from Telemundo with Internet features from Yahoo, such as Internet search and e-mail.

Network officials said they have 24 marketing platforms in the works for advertisers that will tap into Telemundo, mun2 and the new Web alliance with Yahoo.

Taunts: Mr. Escobar, donning a top hat and tails and surrounded by dancers, sang his own version of the “Chicago” tune “All That Jazz,” swapping the lyrics of the original to take pot shots at Univision’s legal troubles with TV show supplier Grupo Televisa and Univision’s parent company being put up for sale. Among the lyrics: “We won’t fail; we’re not for sale. We’re made for you,” and “Not to be too rude, but we’re not being sued. We’re made for you.” -Jay Sherman



Univision

The schedule: Univision is standing by its customary practice of introducing a new crop of telenovelas to fill the Monday through Friday prime-time block, and the No. 1 Spanish-language broadcaster plans to add five new weekly series to its schedule.

Among the new shows coming this fall: A singing competition show spun off from the popular dancing competition series “Bailando por un Sue%F1;o,” a game show that pits five families against each other; and a sitcom about a homemaker husband.

“We are proud of our leadership position,” Alina Falcon, executive VP and operating manager of Univision Television Network, told a packed room of advertisers.

In a bid to capitalize on the ratings success of “Bailando,” Univision will air “Cantado por un Sue%F1;o,” which will feature regular people teaming with famous singers to win the chance to grant a noble wish to someone. The show airs Sundays 8-11 p.m. (ET).

Airing before “Cantado” will be “Belleza Latina” at 7-9 p.m., a show featuring Latina women competing in a beauty pageant that features twists and competitions. The show appears to borrow from a range of reality shows, from “Survivor” to “Fear Factor.”

On Fridays at 10 p.m. is “¡Que Madre, Tan Padre!” a half-hour sitcom about the chaos that ensues after a father loses his job and becomes a homemaker while his wife goes to work.

Among the new prime-time telenovelas scheduled to air next season is “Heridas de Amor,” a story about love emerging amid rivalries and family strife; “Duelo de Pasiones,” a love story set on a coffee plantation in Mexico; “La Verdad Oculta,” a story about an ex-convict looking to settle scores; and “La Fea Mas Bella,” a story about an unattractive woman who transforms into a beauty.

Meanwhile, Univision’s second broadcast network, TeleFutura, said last Tuesday that it will launch two new telenovelas this fall: “Por Amor” and “La Marca Del Deseo”-as well as the new game show “¿Que Dice La Gente?,” a Spanish version of the United States’ “Family Feud.”

Galavision, the company’s Spanish-language cable network, said Tuesday it will debut five new series this fall, including “Mision: Reportar,” a reality show competition to find Univision’s next on-air entertainment reporter; “Un Destino,” which showcases exotic world locales; “Notas de Estilo,” a home-makeover show; “Delicioso,” a cooking show hosted by chef Ingrid Hoffmann; and “Tercer Grado,” a talk show featuring journalists and newsmakers.

The pitch: Given its ability to bag 3.9 million viewers on average-four times more than its nearest Spanish-language competitor-Univision’s challenge is less about convincing advertisers that the network has a winning strategy than it is about convincing them of the value of the Hispanic audience.

Univision’s argument has been bolstered by the network’s inclusion in Nielsen Media Research’s National Television Index, where it regularly ranks among the top four networks.

Univision President Ray Rodriguez in his upfront presentation stressed that the U.S. Hispanic audience is younger and has more of a connection with advertisers than its English-language counterparts.

“This business is young and growing,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “We know how to connect with the Hispanic audience.”

Digital demo: Univision executives talked little about advertising opportunities on digital platforms, arguing that the television business still has lots of room for growth before the broadcaster has to give much thought to the Web or iPods.

However, the topic might be somewhat moot: Univision buys
about half of the TV series it airs from Grupo Televisa of Mexico and Venevision of Venezuela, and Univision is currently locked in a legal battle with Televisa over royalty payments for some of those shows and is reportedly feuding over Internet rights as well.

Taunts: While Univision officials talked little about their competition, Mr. Rodriguez took a shot at Telemundo’s strategy to air only content that it owns. “Our audiences don’t care who the producer [of a show] is,” he said. “It’s meaningless.”

Best showbiz moment: Actors Pablo Montero and Sergio Goyri, stars of “Duelo de Pasiones,” staged a mock armed duel and accidentally shoot Ms. Falcon. -Jay Sherman



2006-2007 NETWORK FALL SCHEDULE