Upfront Reviews: Fox Hispanic Media, TVGN

By Simon Applebaum TV / Video Download Archives

In the midst of the Digital Content NewFront blitz, two TV programmers went their own separate ways.

Fox Hispanic Media

Venue : Location05, near the corner of 10th Ave. and W. 34th St. At first sight, this building didn't look like the place to be -- worn on the outside, next to an outdoor parking lot, one door and up one stairway. Inside at the top of the stairs it was a different story – a bright central room where attendees could pick how to sit among posh sofas, tables and chairs. Soy dumplings were among the appetizers on hand, plus a hot dog stand was close by in another room. Grade: 3.5 Jacks

Presentation : A two-parter for MundoFox, Fox Deportes, Fox Life and Nat Geo Mundo, Fox's quartet of Spanish-language networks. For less than a half-hour, ad sales executive vice president Tom Maney and senior vice president Juan Vallejo reviewed the significant viewer and sponsorship increases on each channel over the past year in rapid-fire fashion, backed up by videos and slides. Marketing vice president Paul Laureano served as "roving reporter" in the audience, offering additional commentary and giving answers to a pre-event attendee survey. Main point: "The consumer is shifting their viewing options, just as you should shift your advertising options," Maney said. In part two, attendees were invited to check out exhibits for each network scattered around the floor, or stay seated and root for contestants on a simulation of popular MundoFox game show 100 Latinos Dijeron (100 Latinos Said/Family Feud) with host Marco Antonio Regil. The choices included co-hosting Fox Deportes' Central Fox, making the ultimate mojito the Fox Life way, or solving Brain Games. Grade: 4.5 Jacks

News: Not one sentence on what's new and forthcoming from any of these channels. Another big surprise: No mention during the Fox Deportes segment of its milestone live Super Bowl simulcast earlier this year, a long-awaited first for Spanish-language TV. Grade : 0 Jacks

Host : Year after year, Maney is among the more engaging and personable speakers on the upfront beat. Vallejo and Laureano did well, while Regil remains a terrific game/variety show talent in either Spanish or English. Grade: 4 Jacks

Overall Grade: 4 Jacks The format's a keeper. Now add a generous helping of news.



Venue : Ninth-floor suite at Ace Hotel, near the corner of Broadway and W. 29th St. Posh room for the channel formerly known as TV Guide Network, co-owned by CBS and Lionsgate, to gather some journalists at a breakfast table. French toast and cantaloupe were on the menu. Grade : 4 Jacks

Presentation : Momentum with ratings and original programming introductions are the main headlines TVGN president Brad Schwartz invited this crowd to remember. "We are catering to super fans (of entertainment), super consumers," Schwartz noted. "For them, TV has never been more exciting. These fans are more obsessive with TV than ever." In the months ahead, his channel will supplement entertainment news coverage (including red carpet activity at award ceremonies) with nonfiction series about celebrities off-tube, screen or stage. Original scripted series, given the resources of CBS/Lionsgate, are on the long-term agenda. "We'll get there," added Schwartz. "Now we need to develop this brand." Best outlook for breaking into scripted: 2016. Grade : 4.5 Jacks

News : More than 400 hours of new programming will run throughout 2014 and early 2015. Up first: The Sorrentinos, highlighting the Jersey Shore afterlife of Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and his family, and Rock This Boat, featuring New Kids On The Block performing on a week-long cruise. (Schwartz sees Rock as an ongoing franchise involving other music acts.) Popsugar Now, the early weeknight half-hour based on the popular Web site that launched for a limited run earlier this year, becomes a permanent feature. Among series under consideration: Sing It On (acappella groups involved in the top U.S. championship), Soap Town (former daytime/primetime serial actors try to launch a new series) and Jet to the Set (travel hotspots around the globe). Grade: 4.5 Jacks

Host : Schwartz was personable and enthusiastic about TVGN and its future. Grade: 4.5 Jacks

Overall Grade: 4.5 Jacks Clicked on all elements.

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