New Network in Works for Univision

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

On Wednesday in New York, executives from Univision, the largest Spanish-language television network in the country, will announce their new fall prime-time lineup and begin sketching in details of a new, as yet unnamed project from parent Univision Communications Inc.--a second national Spanish-language TV network.

The new network will largely be built out of Univision’s just approved acquisition of USA Networks’ TV stations. Specifically, it will pursue male viewers, ages 18-34, who tend to only “visit” Spanish-language TV for soccer. These are bilingual men who tend to watch NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox most of the time.

Executives expect the network will be up and running in 80% of all Latino homes in the country by January.

The move is the latest indication of how quickly the Spanish-language media market--particularly within the Univision media empire--is diversifying and expanding. The parent company’s Web site, Univision.com, for example, was launched last year and became the No. 1 Spanish-language portal in the U.S. within eight months. Meanwhile, Galavision, specializing in Spanish-language movies, is the corporation’s successful cable network.

While there are a number of Spanish-language cable channels, currently there are only two national networks for this country’s millions of Spanish-speakers, Univision and Telemundo. Univision dominates the network market with an 83% share of U.S. Latino viewers during prime time. Nevertheless, Univision executives do not believe a second network will cannibalize their market share.

“We’re not trying to steal audience from ourselves,” said Tom McGarrity, president of network sales for Univision Network. “We’re trying to bring in a whole group of viewers who are not watching Spanish-language television.”

In the past few weeks, Univision executives have unveiled the concept of a second network to advertisers, without providing details. Several ad agency executives interviewed by The Times said they anticipated the new network would be quickly embraced by their clients. Already Univision has managed to reach parity on ad rates with the four major English-language networks for all time periods except prime time.

Even with a softer economy this year, Univision executives believe media buyers will jump on board the new venture.

“If you’re an advertiser, you know who’s watching,” said Jack MacKenzie, Senior Vice President Entertainment for Frank N. Magid Associates, a television research and consulting firm. “Talk about the ability to target your audiences.”