Telemundo, whose younger-skewing programming has helped it do the once-unthinkable and narrow the ratings gap with Hispanic TV arch-rival Univision, is aiming to lean into that momentum with the launch of Fluency Plus, a new bilingual digital production studio.
The move marks an expansion of existing production arm Fluency Studios, adding capacity for branded content and digital titles designed to leverage Telemundo’s partnerships with BuzzFeed, Vox, Tastemade and Snapchat. The target audience is the population of more than 13 million Hispanic millennial/Gen Z consumers served by NBCU platforms. Many marketers call members of this group “200-percenters,” meaning 100% Latino and 100% American.
Fluency Plus will develop a range of English- and Spanish-language offerings, including web and social-first series, miniseries, alternative, comedy and 360-degree virtual reality experiences. Its slate includes social reality series Love Clicks and Quinceañera; a telenovela twist called Much Ado About Nada; foodie titles Secret Salsa and Today’s Special; daily celebrity show MVTO; and No Inventes, a tech and innovation show with an emphasis on Hispanic inventors.
“Fluency is now pivoting beyond its origins in Hispanic targeted feature films to incorporate a broad range of bilingual digital programming,” said Peter E. Blacker, EVP of digital and emerging business for Telemundo. “We are uniquely positioned to connect the large scale of the U.S. Hispanic audience with leading brands and partners.”
The initiative comes as the company (recently rebranded Telemundo Enterprises) gets set to move into new headquarters in Miami in early 2018, a facility that will unite offices with studio space, which used to be scattered around several locations. Next year should also be a ratings driver, with the World Cup and Winter Olympics on tap. When parent Comcast reported third-quarter earnings last week, NBCU chief Steve Burke called Telemundo “a real gem inside our company.” The ratings momentum could soon show up more clearly on the balance, sheet, he added during a conference call with analysts. “If we keep beating Univision, we should at some point catch up to Univision in terms of monetization,” he said.
By contrast with Telemundo’s partnership-oriented digital approach, which fits Burke’s strategy across NBCU of investing in companies like BuzzFeed and Vox rather than pursuing full acquisitions, Univision has been on a buying spree in recent years. It has acquired digital outfits such as The Onion and Gizmodo Media, putting them under the Fusion banner and mobilizing digital content and video around sub-brands such as Jalopnik and Jezebel while also creating a new online news destination, Splinter.