Cynopsis Backstage at the Upfronts – 05/14/15: ESPN, NBCU Hispanic, Univision, Estrella TV


Last year, Turner combined the power of television
and the data-driven opportunities of digital.
The result:
a double-digit increase in our partners’ ROI*.
This year, we’re ready to TURN IT UP!

LIVE IT UP with premium content across every screen.
POWER IT UP with our massive engaged audiences.
HEAT IT UP with next-generation data and branded content capabilities.
BACK IT UP with measurable results.
*Source: Turner Research / Nielsen Media Analytics; custom response effect attribution studies.


BEHIND THE SCENES at the Upfronts
The People! The Parties! The Buzz!a


Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre traded in The Lion King for cheerleaders waving pom-poms (honest) and an array of costumed team mascots as attendees arrived for ESPN’s Upfront on Tuesday morning.

Themed “The ESPN Impression,” a strong one was made early on as American Idol’s Jordin Sparks and the NYC Color Guard wowed the large crowd  the Minskoff has a 1500+ seat capacity – with a stirring Star Spangled Banner. A hard act to follow, but the event continued with a parade of ESPN executives and guests including the New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis, the Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade,  and the cast of Good Morning America (can you say “synergy”?)

What’s the pitch?
“Our goal this year is to talk about the ‘The ESPN Impression,’”
Eric Johnson, EVP of Global Multimedia Sales, told Cynopsis. “All impressions are not created equal. And many of those dimensions of value  brand, passion and environment  work harder to drive action and interest for our clients.”’

New categories you are targeting or want to break?
“We have never met a new category we didn’t like,” said Johnson. “Given the success of the College Football Playoff and the timing of the New Year’s Six Bowl Games, I’d say that I would like to see more advertisers kick off new creative for the New Year. We did have some advertisers take advantage this past year, but even more should be thinking this way. The Heath/Well-Being category might be a good new category as it’s top of mind for many of us around the New Year.”

How would you characterize your competitive edge?
“Our advantage is that we are live, we deliver scale, and we know how brands should talk to our audience to move their product,” said Johnson. “We have built a sales organization and a culture that focuses on driving our customers’ business with deeper insights and more effective messaging.”

“At a time when traditional media is challenged to deliver ratings and audiences, we are delivering growth on every screen,” added Ed Erhardt, President, Global Customer Marketing and Sales, ESPN.

What’s the biggest challenge for ESPN this year?
“Demonstrating the opportunity around the scale and diversity of our audience on all platforms,” Johnson told Cynopsis. “On scale, we are live and live is fueling usage…we won the night on TV 83 nights last year. With that reach and audience, we should be thought of as more than part of a sports budget. We are also more than men. In fact, we have been running a pre-upfront trade campaign that highlights some of those more surprising audience demographics  like the fact that in Q4 ESPN digital reached more than 30 million women a month  much larger audiences than some traditional “female” skewing outlets.  The reality is that sports fans come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds  and they all come to ESPN. Audience targeting and analytics have created new opportunities for advertisers.”

What are your goals this upfront season?
“For better or worse, sales has a very easy metric to gauge success,” Johnson said. “When we can work with a client to create an innovative, integrated program that helps move their business forward  that is a success in my book.”
They’re good sports (programmers)
Among the many programming announcements made at the upfront: Scott Van Pelt has signed a multiyear extension that will see him become the solo anchor for Sportscenter’s weekday, midnight edition; SportsCenter AM is adding two new hours from 7am ET to 9am ET; Mike & Mike is moving to Times Square beginning Feb. 8th, 2016.

ESPN Films will launch Volume Three of 30 for 30, featuring 30 new documentaries; an NFL Wild Card playoff game during the 2015 season, as well as a pre-game show, will simulcast on ABC for the first time during the NFL Wild Card Weekend in January 2016; the network will own the final week of the 2015 MLB regular-season by televising up to seven Postseason Impact Games, three of which are new this year.

“In the midst of startling and rapid technological change, the power of live sports remains paramount,” said John Skipper, Co-Chairman Disney and ESPN Media Networks and President, ESPN. “It’s the best impression you can ask for, and it will continue to be. ESPN has must-have content for any new device or platform.”

Just Asking…
We batted around some questions with Mike Tirico, ESPN play-by-play commentator and studio host.

What’s your favorite social media platform?
Twitter. It has become one of my primary sources for news. Where I once searched the Internet for stories, they are now links on my timeline.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
That’s easy: teleporting. Flight delays and storing baggage in overhead compartments would be eliminated with the ability to teleport yourself from one location to the next!

If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and what would they order?
Ronald Reagan. I majored in broadcast journalism and political science during my time at Syracuse. Whether it was recreating sporting events on the radio or leading the free world at the end of the Cold War, there would be endless topics for conversation. I have no idea what he would order, but jelly beans as an after-dinner treat would be fine by me as well.

Least favorite subject in school?
Loved them all. If we only knew how easy it was to be a student back then!

Reported by Rod Granger


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NBCU Hispanic

NBC Universal’s Hispanic Group debuted their All Together. Latino market initiative at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater last night. Stars from Telemundo and NBC Universo walked a purple carpet into a packed house, where NBCU unveiled everything from digital projects like the integrated content Double Accion app to a new partnership with Defy Media to a full slate of scripted, reality and sports programming. “Our time is now, and Telemundo is on fire,” Telemundo president Luis Silberwasser told the crowd. So it was only fitting that the show closed with Reggaetón star Daddy Yankee throwing a little “Gasolina” on the flames.  

What’s the pitch?
“For the first time in the history of the Hispanic properties within this group¯which includes Telemundo and NBC Universo, as well as all our digital, mobile and social offerings¯this team is embedded and part of a much larger portfolio of NBC Universal,” Mike Rosen, Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales, News and Hispanic Groups tells Cynopsis. “Historically, the multicultural or hispanic marketplaces have been independent of what was considered the ‘general’ market. Our philosophy is that marketing should be holistic in reaching consumers in the best contextual and culturally relevant way possible. We offer solutions that bring to bear the entire NBCU portfolio of broadcast, cable and digital assets, but we do it in a way that offers advertisers the chance no matter who their key targets are. So, the ‘All together’ part really signifies something unique in our marketplace, where we have fused together what used to be two separate markets.

“The Latino culture has become transformational in its impact on all of U.S. culture. We believe that opens up opportunities for marketers to look much more broadly at Hispanic marketing and even ‘general market’ marketing by tapping into the power of the Latino culture¯music, art, food, sports and other passion points.”

Commercial breaks?
“We think there are several categories that are underserving the population because they struggle to figure out what the right strategy is to reach Hispanics both in Spanish and English,” says Rosen. “So we’re helping advertisers figure it out through a research study that we’re calling CultureFirst, which is the subject of the latest Curve Report from NBCU’s insights and trends practice. That will help our marketers take key cultural insights and build marketing platforms that can exist regardless of language but be culturally relevant to Hispanics.”

How do you stand out from your competitors?
Says Rosen, “Clients see us as one of the most innovative companies in how we build customized marketing solutions. Telemundo, for many years, has been the only major company in our marketplace that produces virtually everything on our air in the Telemundo studios. That allows us the opportunity to create additional content that can live in digital, social and mobile media. That continues to be a differentiator and benefit to marketers who not only want to advertise on our TV and digital properties, but who also want to take some of the great content, whether it’s integrated or just shareable, and make a deeper connection with their own consumer.

What are your clients saying?
“We have a show on the air right now, El Cidro de los Cielos, which started weeks ago at 10 o’clock,” says Rosen. “Since the time [change], our network on average is the No. 1 network regardless of language, broadcast or cable in reaching 18-34 year olds. That a Spanish-language network is the No. 1 in reaching millennials of any television [airing] at 10 o’clock is something that is probably a little mind-boggling for those who’ve been in the business a long time. So advertisers love that, and then they love the fact that we are open to seeing the business differently than it has been for all these years¯where the marketplaces were so separate and language was a barrier.”

New Programming?
“We’re going to have the first-ever Spanish-language version of the American Music Awards, broadcast live from Los Angeles on October 8, so we’re tremendously excited about that one. Another major announcement is a new reality series on Telemundo for first quarter 2016 called Grand Hermano, based on the hit Big Brother. If you can imagine from the point-of-view of social media, digital and mobile, that show is custom-built for the U.S. Hispanic who is over index in mobile usage and social,” says Rosen.

“NBC Universo will be covering NFL football games simulcast in Spanish on Sunday nights to go along with NBC. NASCAR will be on NBC Universo, also simulcasting some races and bringing some original races from Mexico to the Hispanic U.S. population. And WWE Raw and Smackdown will continue to be on NBC Universo.” 

Any other changes afoot?
“All of the sports that come within Telemundo and NBC Universo are going to be rebranded as NBC Deportes,” says Rosen. “Telemundo and NBC Universo, under the banner of NBC Deportes, have a 12-year exclusive Spanish-language relationship with FIFA. We will be covering the next three full cycles of World Cup. Between FIFA events, Premier League soccer, the Olympics in 2016, the Confederations Cup tournaments and the men’s World Cup out of Russia, we have the continuity of the greatest soccer in the world.”
Just Asking…
We put two of Telemundo’s hosts with the most, Maria Celeste and Jorge Bernal, on the Cynopsis hot seat. 

Maria Celeste:
What’s your favorite social media platform?
Facebook, because it allows me to have real conversations with my friends and fans. Twitter is too telegraphic and Instagram doesn’t allow you to zoom into the photos.
Why should people watch your show?
Because it takes you across the world and back in an hour. I call our format "News Paella" because it has a little bit of everything mixed together and you’re bound to like something if not everything! Al Rojo Vivo takes you on a roller coaster of emotions and when it’s over you want to get right back in.
Jorge Bernal:
What’s your hidden talent?
I can swallow my tongue. I was born without that tiny flap of skin that’s under the tongue.
Why should people watch your show?
On La Voz Kids, kids give it their all to show the world their talent. Many of them have gone through the toughest of times, lost parents or siblings, had life close doors in their face and still have a smile on their face. They have a dream and are willing do to whatever it takes to make it a reality.

Quote of the Day:
“We’re tremendously proud to be able to finally show to America a whole new channel,” NBC Universo President Ruben Mendiola said to Cynopsis after the Upfronts presentation. “We launched on February 1, 2015 with the Super Bowl, but we haven’t been able to share our new programming [until tonight]. We have three fantastic sports franchises and really good entertainment. Now it’s time to continue working on launching our properties and defining the network.”

reported by Mala Bhattacharjee



With content, scale & social influence
Backed by TV’s biggest platform,

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We are better.

Bigger Together


If you want advertisers to literally get on their feet at your upfront, you could do like Univision: begin with President Bill Clinton and close with a performance from Ricky Martin. In between, remind the audience why they want Univision to lead them “this way forward.”

Univision held its upfront at Broadway’s Lyric Theater, a multi floor playhouse with rococo architecture and winding staircases. A full house listened to hip hop and salsa, with colored lights swaying across the theater. After a quick musical intro from a cellist and violinist, Univision President Randy Falco took the stage to present his special guest, Bill Clinton.

Clinton, interviewed by Alicia Menendez of UCI-owned Fusion, talked about how the 59M Latinos in our country are influencing the future. For instance, she asked, if you were to advise the presidential candidates on reaching this audience, what would you do? Much audience laughter.

“You’ve got to have a credible position on immigration reform,” the President said. “I think the only thing that makes sense is a path to citizenship, active support for children and a much more discriminating way of enforcing the law. Beyond that, Hispanic families need good jobs, rising incomes, and entrepreneurial opportunities. In theory, there’s about $1.2 trillion buying power in the Hispanic community, including the immigrant population. We know that means 470 billion dollars will be added to the GDP because of that activity. Putting people into the workplace would raise their wages and buying power. They would make our economy healthier and reduce poverty. The legalization of immigrants would add to tax paying, reduce the deficit and be good for the American economy.”

Clinton also made a pointed comment to the advertising community. “With people staying and finishing school, I would study the changing demographics and purchasing power of Hispanics very closely. The only thing a company or government can do that makes sense is this: have a policy of radical inclusiveness.” Clinton was having such a good time talking, he went over the allotted time limit. Menendez had to remind him that she was being asked to wrap the discussion but to the audience’s delight, Clinton kept talking until he finished his thoughts.

With his comments fresh on people’s minds, Randy Falco, President of Ad Sales and Marketing, Keith Turner, EVP Ad Sales, Steve Mandala, and EVP of Programming Jessica Rodriguez, as well as Emmy winning journalists Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas presented some bold numbers.

The Stats

  • 44 percent of Millennials are non-white.
  • US Hispanic income will grow twice as fast as the rest of the country over the next 10 years.
  • Hispanic entrepreneurs open twice as many businesses as the national average.
  • Spanish speakers will account for 40% of all economic growth over the next ten years.
  • Hispanics are two times more likely to interact with social media than any other ethnic group.
  • UCI claims 91% watch primetime live. UniMas, UCI’s milllennial driven network, has 93% watching live.
  • And perhaps most alluring to advertisers: 96% do not fast forward during commercials.

The Pitch
UCI has coined a new word: “Billennials.” The phrase refers to millennials who live in homes where Spanish is spoken and cross culture is practiced. And Billennials make up 21% of all millennialsa number that will continue to grow.

“We’re still aggregating live audiences on our linear networks,” said Mandala. “For the other most popular networks in the country, only half of all viewing is live. Only on Univision do advertisers get what they want where they want it with absolute assuredness. There’s no way to drive your opening box office, limited time offers or new product launches if the consumer isn’t seeing your ad exactly when you want them to see it and at the time you paid to have them see it. “

The Slate
With shows aimed at the Billennials, UCI has new programming on all its nets including Fusion, El Rey, UniMas and Univision Deportes.

UniMas’ Esmeraldes is an upscale soap in the Dynasty/Dallas tradition. The Guerrero family lives and works in the profitable yet dangerous emerald business. It’s a story of love, tradition, family history and deception. And it has what Billennials love: Esmeraldes is based on a true story.

Copa America Centenario promises a mega audience when it begins airing in June of 2016 on Univision Deportes. This is the 100th anniversary of a trans America soccer championship and for the first time, the 16 national teams including the U.S, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, will be playing in the U.S.

UniMas, the home of many telanovelas, will begin broadcasting “Antes Muerta Que Lichita,”“I’d Rather be Dead Than Ordinary.”  The show centers on a young woman who is passed over for promotion at her advertising agency. After 8 years of being a mouse she gathers her inner power and becomes a force in the business. This will be UniMas’ second transmedia novela, a story within a story where the audience can participate via Twitter. Starring Maite Perron, who has a strong social media presence.

Univision has teamed up with Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Ricky Martin to present La Banda, and La Banda 2 will be the focus of the second season. The first searches for the ultimate Latino boy band, in the second, they will look for the ultimate Latina girl band.

And in the category of Award Shows UCI is bringing The First Social Media Awards. The show will honor those people (regular and celebrity) who have the most influential social media presence. Finally, Univision will be broadcasting Miss Universe through 2019.

Quotable Quote: “I’m well aware that I’m just a warm up act for Ricky Martin,” Bill Clinton.

Reported by Meredith Berlin

Estrella TV

Estrella TV unveiled an ambitious programming strategy at its annual upfront gala on Monday and wowed the crowd at Manhattan’s elegant Bryant Park Grill with entertainment including singer Skylar Grey, who performed atop a high-tech stage and sound system. But for Judy Kenny, Executive Vice President Network Sales & Marketing, it’s all about the net’s impressive growth.

What’s the pitch?
The cornerstone of our message is consistency and growth in an environment of declining audiences. We have a proven track record for the future and just launched Fenomeno Studios, a multichannel network that showcases our existing talent and serves as an incubator for new digital talent.

How does Estrella stand out from the crowd?
One hundred percent original programming with a focus on custom content. And we’re the only network that has grown millennial audiences two years in a row.
What are clients saying?
They love our ability to be creative, consistent and nimble. We are a millennial growth network. Clients cheered the innovative MCN creation that already launched.

New Programming includes:
 – En La Lucha
– An entertainment program designed to bring political leaders and social influencers into the homes of the millennial.

– iTestigo ­ A “citizen reporters” program that will feature user generated content of events and social issues. An iTestigo app will push geographically targeted requests for content from participating reporters.

– An interview show starring Mexican actress and comedian Consuelo Duval.  

Just asking….Judy Kenny
What job would you like to have but know you never will?

What’s your Can’t Miss TV Show?
Tengo Talento Mucho Talento
and The Blacklist

Coming up in Backstage at the Upfronts, in your Mailbox at 6pm!

Turner does it up in midtown and Tao Downtown with a little help from Sharon Stone, Rebecca Romijn, Conan O’Brien, and Seth Green. Plus, CBS at Carnegie Hall!

Keep Watching & Reading,
Lynn Leahey, Editor
Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

Cynopsis Ad Sales: Mike Farina | VP, Sales | 203-218-6480

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