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Upfronts 2018: Telemundo offers single commercial break in 1st part of dramas

As part of NBCUniversal Media LLC's overall plan to reduce the advertising load in broadcast and cable originals, Telemundo (US) will present only one commercial break during the first 25 minutes of its hour dramas.

During a May 10 upfront video presentation to the press from the recently opened Telemundo Center, Laura Molen, executive vice president of lifestyle and Hispanic advertising sales for NBCUniversal, said the Spanish-language programmer is pitching a single 60-second pod during the opening part of its programming. Typically, a commercial break spans 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Comcast Corp.'s programming arm announced in February that it plans to cut the number of advertisements it airs within commercial pods by 20%, which would result in a 10% decline in ad time across its original prime-time portfolio, including NBC (US), USA (US), Syfy (US), Bravo (US), E! (US), CNBC (US) and Oxygen (US).

Molen, in a phone interview after the presentation, said the strategy will enable advertisers to better connect with viewers leaning into the content. She said that research shows that less cluttered environments yield enhanced engagement metrics, including viewability, recall and intent to purchase. The 60-second ad break is available across the network's top-rated prime-time shows.

Advertisers have options, as they could run a 60-second spot, insert a movie trailer, run branded content or air content created from NBCU's intellectual property. The pod could also house a pair of 30-second units.

Asked about pricing, Molen said NBCU and Telemundo are seeking a premium for the new approach. To date, she said there has been "good feedback" among advertisers in such key categories as studios, telcom and autos.

The Telemundo presentation also noted Hispanics' growing economic clout: U.S. Latinos commanded $1.0 trillion in spending power in 2010 and $1.5 trillion in 2017, en route to a projected $1.9 trillion in 2022.

Market research presented by the network indicated that a general market approach to advertising doesn't work for many U.S. Hispanics. Data indicated that 61% of Latinos are not reached by general-market ads and that 40% only watch Spanish-language TV.

Telemundo and Universo President Luis Silberwasser called out a quartet of series during the presentation: the fifth season of "Señora Acero;" "El Señor de los Cielos," which is currently in its sixth season and will return for a seventh campaign; the sophomore run of "La Reina del Sur 2" ("The Queen of the South 2"), which resumes eight years after the original; and "El Baron Rojo," the story of a cultured, well-educated bon vivant who becomes a drug-trafficking pioneer in the 1980s.

Among the dramas discussed: returning hit, "Sin Senos Si Hay Paraiso" and "Betty in New York," a modern-day adaption of "Yo soy Betty, la fea."

Silberwasser said Telemundo is looking to give viewers more choices on highly competitive Sunday nights, where it will continue to feature premium series whose narratives wend over 10 to 15 installments, shorter runs than typical Spanish-language dramas.

"El Recluso" ("The Inmate") follows a man looking to rescue the daughter of a prominent U.S. judge from a maximum security prison, while "Falco" tracks a homicide detective who awakens from a coma 23 years after he was shot in the head.

Sunday night will also be home to reality competition shows, notably "La Voz," the first-ever Spanish-language version of NBC's "The Voice." "Despacito" singer Luis Fonsi is the first of four coaches to be announced. "Exation" is an extreme sports and endurance competition between two squads of 10 people vying for $200,000 in prize money.

On the streaming side, Telemundo, which is available via Hulu LLC's live TV platform, also inked a distribution deal covering 3,000 hours of on-demand Spanish-language content.

Telemundo Deportes President Ray Warren touted the 2019 Women's World Cup from France, where the top-ranked U.S. women's team hopes to defend its 2015 crown. Telemundo will develop its first-ever, bilingual female empowerment series, "Fuerza," relating stories of multicultural women ahead of next year's quadrennial competition. Distributed across Telemundo Enterprises-owned sites, as well as YouTube, Twitter and SnapChat, the 14-week series will also have celebrity guests and social influencers join the conversation during production at the Telemundo Center.

As to the 2018 men's tournament, kicking off from Russia on June 14, Warren said Telemundo is working with FIFA to offer matches in the virtual reality format, while augmented reality components will be featured during pre- and post-match coverage.

During the presentation, Molen said that Telemundo has sold out 90% of its inventory. That's up from a 75% level in early March. Afterward, she said schedules have been secured across all key categories, none of which are exclusive, as the company looks to sell out the remaining units. Additionally, there will be opportunities for advertisers to attach themselves to digital content, some of which will likely be unveiled during the tournament itself.