Exclusive Interview: NBCUniversal’s Joe Uva


PREMIUM: Joe Uva, the chairman of Hispanic enterprises and content at NBCUniversal, talks about increasing Telemundo’s ratings and diversifying its schedule and the importance of sharing content between Telemundo and mun2 and their sister English-language brands.

WS: In what ways are you increasing the presence of Telemundo’s programming on NBCUniversal networks and platforms?
UVA: It’s not just taking Telemundo content and putting it on other NBCU properties. It’s also about looking at brands, content and properties that reside on other NBC networks and seeing which can be adapted to Telemundo or mun2.

Let’s take a property like The Voice; it’s a megahit for NBC. La Voz Kids [The Voice Kids] is a megahit for Telemundo. We’ve taken the same basic program and adapted it to resonate with a younger demo. Doing La Voz Kids is a way for us to connect with the Hispanic community, and the beauty is that there is only 10 percent audience duplication between The Voice and The Voice Kids and that’s from the bilingual community.

Another example is Top Chef. It has been a wonderfully successful franchise for Bravo. We’ve made a deal with Bravo and in the first quarter of 2014 we will be debuting a celebrity version of Top Chef on Telemundo on Sunday nights, called Top Chef: Estrellas. And Telemundo is working with NBC. Our second most successful telenovela of all time, El señor de los cielos, is being considered for development at NBC as a prime-time series.

WS: Has Telemundo’s advertising sales force been working with NBCUniversal’s to get more English-language advertisers to address the Hispanic market?
UVA: The 2013-14 Upfront market was the first time the NBCUniversal portfolio of networks, including Telemundo, went to the advertising market as one. Telemundo benefitted from being involved in discussions and negotiations much earlier than has been the historical practice, which also led to a record take for our network. At the same time, Telemundo remained focused on those agencies that only deal with multicultural budgets and Hispanics, to make sure that we covered the entire market.

What has really turned advertisers’ heads is that NBCUniversal reaches over 90 percent of the U.S. Hispanic market in any given four-week period, regardless of language—that is a total of 53 million Hispanic Americans in the country. The second closest competitor is 21st Century Fox; they reach 68 percent. Univision is third, roughly tied with Disney and Time Warner. We are the only media company that can truly provide a one-stop shop to reach the U.S. Hispanic community.

WS: What is Telemundo offering advertisers beyond the traditional 30-second spot?
UVA: Because Telemundo controls its prime-time telenovela production, we can do very innovative integrations with advertisers.  Our clients have been extremely receptive and Telemundo has had a reputation for quite some time as being the innovator in the market in Spanish-language media.

We’re offering advertisers not only branded entertainment opportunities and product integration, but we’re also creating unique content that we are able to use specifically for advertisers.

[Last year,] we launched a very unique multiplatform studio called Fluency that sits under our digital group. We are working with advertisers directly on content that will play on a variety of digital destinations and linear platforms. This is a very innovative way for us to provide multi-screen, multiplatform opportunities for advertisers.

WS: What types of programming is Telemundo focusing on in order to increase ratings?
UVA: Univision has a very unique programming pipeline and business model for content acquisition through its agreement with Televisa. We, on the other hand, are producing our own content in Miami and in Mexico, and we are working with third parties to tap into programming that we think will resonate with the community.

Let’s just talk about one hour of prime time, which is probably the best example of where there has been a pretty big shift—the hour from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. In 2012, in that hour, Telemundo’s share of adults 18 to 49 was 22 percent. In 2013, we grew it to 32 percent, an increase of 10 share points. Univision, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., had a 66 share and fell 8 points to a 58 share. UniMás lost 1 share point. The difference is we have made an investment in what we refer to as super-series that have fewer episodes than a classic telenovela, which usually runs 120-plus episodes. Our series at 10 p.m. are much more action-oriented, faster-paced, high-impact, and run 65 to 70 episodes. The quality is very good. We have significantly increased what we spend per episode. This year we had some great success with this new format. They attract a younger, more upscale audience than Univision’s 10 p.m. novelas. A gain of 10 share points over the course of a full year is pretty good growth.

We have also invested heavily in our 9 p.m. telenovelas, which are more of a classic nature, but we have increased their production value. We have attracted very well-known talent. In 2013, we aired the telenovela La patrona, starring Aracely Arámbula. It did extraordinarily well and has become an international success for us. That helped drive a 5 percent share increase year-on-year among 18 to 49 versus 2012. That 5 point increase came directly out of Univision and UniMás. Univision lost 4 points, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. in 2013. UniMás lost 1 share point.

By providing an alternative with programs that are more contemporary, by tying in multi-screen opportunities and really focusing on scripts, talent and adaptations that we believe are right for our audience, we are showing that we can have consistent growth.

WS: Are there plans to launch Telemundo in markets beyond Latin America and Africa?
UVA: We will be launching more feeds in Latin America designed to create new advertising opportunities in specific regions and markets. Today, we have a feed for Mexico and we have a pan-regional feed. Starting in February, we will have a dedicated Mexico feed so that we can sell commercials to those advertisers interested in advertising only in that market. In the fourth quarter of 2014, we will add a second pan-regional feed, and in the first quarter of 2015, we will add a third. And we plan to expand Telemundo into European markets over the next couple of years. We are thrilled about the reception and success of Telemundo in Africa—it beat our expectations.