Upfront With Univision: Full Steam Ahead

With Univision’s Upfront presentation set for Tuesday, June 16, Steve Mandala, President of Advertising Sales and Marketing for Univision Communications, shares insights on how Univision has weathered the 2020 storm, and its sunny expectations moving forward.

What impact has the pandemic had on Univision’s Upfront season? 

We understand that there has been trepidation, especially early on, in how to proceed for some clients, however, we are seeing more and more of our partners engage with us heading into our Upfront presentation. We fully expect more momentum following the presentation to continue and are ready to act when our partners tell us they are ready.

When you do foresee the ad market recovering?

We are already seeing more positivity in our discussions with our partners. Brands are ready to engage but are looking to strike the right message and tone. My sense is that the market will start to see a lift coming towards the end of summer and into the fall, and really hit its stride in early 2021. 

How did Univision handle the production and live sports shutdowns?

Univision has been well-prepared with a strong pipeline of scripted content that is 90 percent complete heading into 2021 thanks to a proven programming strategy that draws on our partnership with Televisa as well as on our strategic global acquisitions. We also have a robust news division that has maintained operation both nationally and locally throughout the pandemic. Fortunately, this has allowed our programming grid to remain relatively unaffected, and since our viewership is more than 90 percent live, we have been able to appease many of the needs of our partners who come to us for sports, by moving them into our other high-visibility properties. 

But as many in the community will hear as part of our presentation, live soccer is on the way back with Liga MX and MLS planning a return this summer, while UEFA and the U.S. and Mexican National Teams are aiming to start by Q4. Additionally, our partner Televisa has already returned to production with “Te Doy la Vida” resuming shooting in Mexico, along with several of the upcoming new novelas slated for later this year. We are poised to continue to deliver new episodes and new programming for the foreseeable future.

How has the Hispanic audience evolved over the past five years?

Media consumption among Hispanic adults has increased nearly 20 percent over the last few years. This recent uptick in total time spent has driven more and more eyeballs to Univision and its collection of networks including Univision, UniMas, Galavision and TUDN, making it the fastest-growing portfolio of networks among all major media groups, while Univision.com remains the No.1 Spanish-language digital property today delivering 20 million uniques per month. Ours is a highly engaged and connected audience that is only expected to grow in influence over the next several years. 

What changes/lessons learned these past few months will have the most impact in 2021 and beyond?

Personally, my biggest takeaway has been the ability of our entire organization to thrive under such unforeseen circumstances. Despite not having much runway to prepare for what was to come, we were able to pivot and not skip a beat. It has been remarkable to see the entire Univision team come together and deliver such incredible results during a truly extraordinary moment in time. I’ve never been more proud of our work and our mission to inform, empower and entertain the Hispanic community.

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