Cesar Conde: Telemundo’s Winning Streak, Innovation and More

Five weeks and counting…On Monday, Nielsen data revealed that Telemundo had ranked as the #1 Spanish-Language network in Monday through Friday primetime among adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 for a historic fifth consecutive week.

Fueled by the success of its new primetime line-up – "Silvana Sin Lana" at 8pm, "Sin Senos Sí Hay Paraíso" at 9pm and the Super Series "Señora Acero 3: La Coyote" at 10pm - the network’s hot streak signifies a huge shift in the U.S. Spanish-language television landscape. For perspective, up until last month, Telemundo had never won a single week in primetime among adults 18-49 versus rival Univision.

Following Monday’s announcement, NBCUniversal.com interviewed Cesar Conde, the Chairman of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises and NBCUniversal International Group, to talk about the network’s historic month and what it means to employees. He also discussed the network’s strategy, digital successes, Telemundo International, NBC UNIVERSO and what he’s looking forward most in the next 18 months.

NBCUniversal.com: Five straight weeks at #1 is huge. What has the mood been like at the network and among the employees this month?

Conde: First, there is a tremendous sense of pride because this is something that doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen because of only one person. This success is the result of the hard work of many people across the entire organization. The incredible teamwork and collaboration are very inspiring and encouraging.

Second, it speaks to the fact that our strategy is starting to bear fruit. We made the proactive decision to make investments in key parts of our business, so it’s gratifying to see them starting to pay off. The third thing, and this is important, is that we are all proud of this great milestone but are all cognizant that there is a lot of work to do, so we want to keep building on this momentum.

NBCUniversal.com: Can you talk a bit more about that strategy and investment?

Conde: Our underlying strategy is that we believe in investing in our business and investing in the Hispanic market. We believe there is great potential in it for us at NBCUniversal, so we’ve been investing in three primary areas:

  1. Content — This starts with everything from acquiring the rights to the FIFA World Cup and other premiere sports like the Olympics, to investing in our original primetime at Telemundo. We have focused on producing new, more innovative programming genres such as our Super Series™. At the core of this strategy, is our commitment to investing in high-quality original content that is made by U.S Hispanics and for U.S. Hispanics.

  2. Infrastructure — The second big area of investment has been our infrastructure. We’ve made big investments in our local Telemundo stations businesses around the country, where working closely with Valari Staab, we are seeing great return on our investments. And earlier this year, we announced that we are building our new global headquarters here in South Florida for NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. This building will be a state-of-the-art, never-before-seen in Hispanic media facility, which we think will help us continue to build on our success.

  3. Talent — The third piece is that we’re investing in talent in front of and behind the camera. That comes back to the simple premise that, at the core, this business is about people.

NBCUniversal.com: In addition to on-air, Telemundo and all of the businesses under your purview have seen great digital success. Can you talk about why that’s such an important place to succeed in this marketplace, and how you’re doing it?

Conde: Our digital business has in many ways been the pioneer in establishing itself as a leader in the Spanish-language digital space. We have been able to capitalize on the fact that the Hispanic community skews much younger than the rest of the population. Because of this, Hispanics over-index on consumption and usage of digital and social media. Being focused on the Hispanic community 100% of the time, our digital team and our team overall pivoted early on to ensure that we were innovative in the creation of content and in getting our message out to consumers in new relevant ways.

We’ve been able to do that by leveraging partnerships at the NBCU level with companies like BuzzFeed and Vox and working with other industry leaders in the digital space. We now have a footprint within the NBCU Hispanic business of 32 million unique users (+22% YOY), reaching 85% of total Hispanics online. We have seen tremendous growth, but we need to continue to innovate in the space.

Just last month, we partnered with YouTube to bring a ‘YouTube Pop-up Space’ to Miami and it was fantastic because we were able to get YouTube creators and Telemundo talent to jointly generate original content that has turned into a viral success story for us.

In addition, interestingly Telemundo has been able to rank as the number one Spanish-language network in VOD for five consecutive years. The reason I think that’s interesting is that we’re not only speaking to the broad term ‘digital,’ but also we’re using the original content we’re producing and ensuring that it engages with the Spanish-speaking audience in unique ways. The fact that our VOD ranking is so high is a foreshadow of what we’re going to continue to see in our business.

The last thing I’ll point to on digital is this: there’s this great company called Shareablee, which measures engagement in social media. In 2016, Telemundo has ranked every month among the top three most engaged TV networks on Facebook, regardless of language. This speaks in a very powerful way to the fact that, regardless of language, we’re creating content that’s connecting with Millennials in a unique way and is generating a loyal following across multiple platforms.

NBCUniversal.com: How do Telemundo International and NBC UNIVERSO help in contributing to all of this success as well?

Conde: Telemundo International has played a pivotal role in the recent success of Telemundo’s ratings momentum. A lot of the partnerships we cut with key international players are big contributors in our content production. The second reason is that in contrast to many networks, the Telemundo Network, as such, exists outside of the United States in many countries. So that allows our brand, and our content, to get exposure and have success beyond U.S. borders. And we know that’s a huge contributor to awareness, word of mouth and eventually ratings here in the U.S. Telemundo International is now the largest distributor of Spanish-language content here in the United States. Our content is sold around the world in 120 countries and translated/subtitled into 40 languages, so we’re transcending borders and languages with our content.

At NBC UNIVERSO, we’re doing great. We revamped the network about a year and a half ago, and since then we’ve seen double-digit growth versus prior season. The other interesting fact is that we’re growing at a faster rate year-over-year than all of our competition, 2.5x the growth rate versus our closest Spanish-language competitors. More recently, the Olympics were huge for NBC UNIVERSO positioning it as the No. 1 Spanish-language cable network in daytime regularly during the 17-day stretch. And we have more great programming launching at the beginning of the year, so we are very excited about the future of NBC UNIVERSO.

NBCUniversal.com: In totality, this is a very exciting time for your business. What excites you most about the upcoming fall season and beyond?

Conde: I think first and foremost, we want to continue building on this primetime ratings momentum in our Monday to Friday grid. We have great products and programming in the pipeline, some of it existing IP, as well as some great new series. So, we’re optimistic about our Monday to Friday ratings momentum continuing into the future.

Second, we have a number of new shows launching on the weekend. We were able to bring Don Francisco, one of the biggest talents in Spanish-language media, to Telemundo. He’ll be launching his new show on the network later this year.

And third, we’re continuing the buildout of our new facility in Miami, which is scheduled to open at the end of 2017/early 2018. Lots of good things happening. We’ve got a lot of work still to build on our momentum, but it’s certainly been a good summer!