Telemundo is adding some variety to its life.
Less than a month after news broke that rival Univision was closing the door on its madcap variety show "Sábado Gigante," Telemundo has announced it's launching its own take on the variety format with "La Sorpresa de Tu Vida" (The Surprise of Your Life).
FOR THE RECORD
8:20 a.m.: An earlier version of this article identified the new Telemundo variety show as "La Sopresa de Tu Vida." It is "La Sorpresa de Tu Vida."
The Spanish-language network, long in the shadows of Univision, had been plotting a variety-type show for about a year. Telemundo saw an opportunity to seize Saturday nights and become the go-to cross-generational unifier in Latino homes across the country — an increasingly challenging task as Latino millennials who prefer consuming content in English have more media options vying for their attention.
"We're going hard for Saturday nights," Telemundo President Luis Silberwasser told The Times. "There's now a void there and we want to go in and capture that audience and create a destination."
The NBCUniversal-owned network, thus far, has used prime-time on Saturday to air movies and Mexican league soccer games.
Its push to find a property that can be a success on the traditionally hard-to-program night is a worthy ambition. A family-friendly show that encourages co-viewing is prime real estate for advertisers. "Sábado Gigante" brought in roughly $81 million in ad revenue for Univision last year, according to data from ad tracking firm Kantar Media.
"La Sorpresa de Tu Vida" will premiere this fall and is being billed as a weekly two-hour, family-oriented show. As the title suggests, the show will focus on surprising contestants and bringing their dreams to fruition. Special guests and celebrities will drop by the show's Miami set, and each week will feature variety show staples such as games, music and comedy segments.
The goal, Silberwasser said, is to produce a program that will also draw in young viewers.
That had grown to be a challenge for "Sábado Gigante." The show draws a large audience, averaging 2 million viewers in the U.S., but it was losing steam with younger viewers.
To help Telemundo attract millennial viewers, "La Sorpresa de Tu Vida" will have a "digital friendly" format, Silberwasser said. Pre-production is set to begin this week.
Helming the dream-fulfilling affair are Mexican actress-singer Angélica Vale ("La fea más bella") and Venezuelan comic Raul Gonzalez, both of whom have roots on Univision. The two met while working on Univision's morning show "Despierta America," where Gonzalez served as a co-host for 13 years.
Gonzalez defected to Telemundo last year and has co-hosted several specials, including "Miss Universe" and the "Latin Billboard Music Awards." "La Sorpresa de Tu Vida" will mark Vale's debut on Telemundo.
"We want to provide feeling-good television and give something to the Hispanic audience that makes them proud of who they are," Gonzalez said in a telephone interview.
Vale added: "Our mission is to blow our audience away on a Saturday night."
In discussing the void the show seeks to fill, Gonzalez lauded Mario "Don Francisco" Kreutzberger as the "godfather of variety for Spanish-language TV" as host of "Sabado Gigante" for more than five decades.
"There's cycles to everything," said Gonzalez, who noted that he often would seek advice from Kreutzberger during his time at Univision. "This is part of the business. He's not fully retiring, he's going to be around forever. I'm grateful he opened the door for the ones coming behind him who look to entertain the new generation."