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Telemundo shifts focus in effort to boost share

NBCUniversal has installed new management and increased the operating budget at the Spanish-language network, which has lagged behind rival Univision.

December 10, 2012|By Meg James, Los Angeles Times

Silkworth and Omnicom's Baez said Telemundo stands out for advertisers because it develops its own dramas and produces them in the U.S. instead of importing them from Mexico. Marketers are able to insert their brands and products into the story lines, a practice called "product placement." For example, in the show "Corazon Valiente," a character's wife becomes jealous when he receives a phone call from another woman. But the man explains the caller is their State Farm insurance agent.

Consulting firm SNL Kagan estimated that Telemundo will generate about $340 million in revenue this year, an increase of 6.5% over 2011. The firm expects operating income to reach $62 million, an increase of 8.4%.

NBCUniversal's campaign to bolster Telemundo comes as other major media companies join the race to reach the estimated 50 million Latinos living in the U.S. Disney's ABC, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and Time Warner Inc.'s CNN have been gearing up new TV programming services to target Latinos.

Integrating Telemundo's operations within NBC long has been a challenge, but observers say they are seeing greater signs of cooperation. For example, Telemundo set up its operations near the NBC News anchor desk at Rockefeller Center in New York last month for its election night coverage. The network saw 30% higher audience turnout than in 2008.

Next year Telemundo plans to introduce a children's version of NBC's "The Voice," called "La Voz: Niños."

The network also has been beefing up its sports coverage. Although Telemundo's experiment to broadcast an NFL football game on Thanksgiving night was a turkey, last summer the network aired more than 170 hours of coverage from the London Olympics — a 20% increase compared with the 2008 Beijing Olympics — which produced strong ratings, particularly for soccer.

"You cannot underestimate the power of a strategic focus," Zalaznick said. "Our programming will resonate if it incorporates family values and themes such as testing of one's soul by pursuing the American dream, and achieving a better legacy for your kids than the one that you inherited."

meg.james@latimes.com

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