How Univision is adapting to a new generation of Latino viewers in the US

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ABC NEWS

ABC News president Ben Sherwood (left), Univision Networks president Cesar Conde (center) and Univision News president Isaac Lee pose as they announce the joint venture between ABC News and Univision News on Monday in New York City.

This week was the upfronts presentations in New York, the time of year when the TV networks try to woo ad buyers for the upcoming season.

While most networks are seeing primetime ratings shrink, one network has been able to boast a 7 percent increase in the key primetime slots: Spanish-language Univision, the country’s fifth largest TV network.

On Tuesday at their upfronts presentation, Univision executives bragged about the network beating NBC during primetime on 195 nights last year.

“It’s all about content,” said Alberto Mier y Terán, senior VP and general manager for the Univision flagship stations in Los Angeles. “It’s producing relevant content to a population or to a viewer base that is growing faster than any other in this country.”

Though it’s the most viewed Spanish-language network in the U.S., Univision is not immune to the rapid changes in the age of new media.

Mier y Terán said innovation and collaboration are two key factors that the network keeps in mind when adapting to these changes and keeping strong audience numbers.

“You cannot ignore social media and you cannot ignore distributors on the Internet," said Mier y Terán. "We are in talks with many of them to pursue content and distribution deals.”

Univision’s often over-the-top telenovelas are the network’s "secret sauce" for strong ratings. They've continued to dominate Univision's lineup for the past 50 years.

Mier y Terán said he’s not too worried that the taste for these Spanish-language soap operas will fade any time soon.

“Televisa, [one of our owners, is] now producing content for us with the intention of going to the U.S. Hispanic population instead of just the Mexican population in Mexico," he said.

A couple weeks ago, ABC and Univision announced they’ll be teaming up to create an English-language news network. Mier y Terán said the joint venture is aimed at English-speaking audiences and a newer generation of Latinos in the U.S.

“We’re doing blogging on some of our news properties online in English," he acknowledged. "So it’s definitely changing.”

He maintains, however, that “there’s definitely a core audience that still speaks Spanish, a bilingual audience” that the network still caters to.

Mier y Terán also added that “48 of the top 50 most-viewed shows in Los Angeles for bilingual Hispanics, only two were on English-language television. They may leave their home and speak in English at work or school, but when they come home, they’re watching Spanish-language TV and they’re speaking Spanish in their home.”

But, he added, "there’s no question that the English-dominant Hispanic is looking at other mediums in English, for obvious reasons.”

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