By: Dade Hayes
Univision offered a preview of the 2018-19 programming slate it will promote at its revamped, two-day upfront pitch to media buyers next week.
The Spanish-language broadcaster remains a heavyweight, but is in a much closer ratings fight with rival Telemundo lately, and also faces a 2018 marked by transition. In recent months, CEO Randy Falco said he had accelerated his retirement to the end of 2018, and the company set a restructuring and pulled a planned IPO.
Programming-wise, the pipeline is stocked with what execs described as eight “culturally relevant” genres — reality, music, melodrama, action drama, crime drama, dramedies, supernatural and sword-and-sandal.
Univision also highlighted its relationship with Netflix, which has already yielded shows like El Chapo and promises a handful of future projects, including the upcoming Tijuana, which was announced in February. The network broke new TV industry ground by airing the drama Narcos, making it the first traditional broadcaster to pick up a show created by the streaming giant.
The company said the first global pilot initiative between Univision and its Televisa production affiliate has resulted in pilots such as supernatural series Brujas al Amanecer (Witches at Dawn) and action-driven drama Las
Benditas (The Blessed).
“This year’s upfront is about ‘Culture Unbound,’ a tribute to the relationship we’ve established with our community that has made us the destination of choice for 25 consecutive seasons,” said Randy Falco, President and CEO of Univision Communications. “We know the best way to connect with our audience is through live news, sports, music and unscripted entertainment, which we deliver across our portfolio everyday, and is our key differentiator in the market.”
Isaac Lee, Chief Content Officer, UCI, said, “We have gone to great lengths and made substantial investments in our content strategy to maintain UCI’s position as the leading destination for Hispanics in this changing marketplace,” said .
Jessica Rodriguez, President & Chief Operating Officer, UCI Networks and Chief Marketing Officer, UCI, added: “With initiatives such as the global Spanish-language TV pilot season and continued partnerships with the new generation of content creators, we will entertain with in-culture content that incorporates the elements we know our audience loves while enabling their discovery of non-traditional genres such as sword-and-sandal and supernatural.”
Live sports also play an outsized role — Univision touted its 1,400 soccer matches. In the unscripted realm, the company touted its “Sunday Night Fever” lineup, with competition series such as Mira Quién Baila and Nuestra
Belleza Latina return with new seasons, along with children’s talent competition, Pequeños Gigantes. Reto 4 Elementos: Naturaleza Extrema (Four Elements Challenge: Extreme Nature), inspired by the the ancient Mayan
civilization, will return for another high-impact season.
In the scripted realm, Univision said W Studios productions include Season 2 of La Piloto (The Pilot), Contracara (Flipside), La Bella y Las Bestias (Beauty and the Beasts) and El Último Dragón (The Last Dragon).
Here is the full lineup, with descriptions provided by Univision:
Contracara (Flipside) – An intricate story of crossed fates unfolds as a media magnate is assassinated on his wedding day at the same time a hitman in the U.S. is executed in the electric chair. The soul of the magnate reincarnates in the body of the hired assassin and, in turn, the killer’s soul winds up inhabiting a professor of anthropology. Each man will now have to deal with not just a new body, but how to adapt to a new spirit, as well. (Primetime – Univision Network – W Studios for Televisa)
Apocalipsis (Apocolypse) – This story about love, spirituality and redemption portrays one of the most controversial stories in the Holy Bible: the end of times. The story will be told in three phases: the first in the 80’s, the second in the 90’s and the last in present day. Throughout the plot, apocalyptic prophecies take place around the globe: Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Jerusalem and New York, where the fateful September 11 attacks are part of the narrative. (Primetime – UniMás Network – TV Record)
Brujas al Amanecer (Witches at Dawn) – Laia and her friends obtain supernatural powers through their tutor, who is a witch. They start to use their powers to avenge those who bullied them, but learn over time that magic can’t protect them from their own mistakes. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Las Benditas (The Blessed) – After an assault on an armored truck ends in fatalities, the widows of the fallen security officers demand that the armored truck company allow them to take the jobs of their husbands. After a tremendous media frenzy, the company is forced to comply and the four women, as different from each other as possible, set out for adventure and hoping to investigate the truth behind the assault. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
La Piloto, 2da Temporad (The Pilot – Season 2) – Inspired by real-life events, this is the continuation of the story of Yolanda, a young woman whose dream of becoming a pilot comes true, but not in the way she would have hoped. Three years after the first season’s conclusion, Yolanda gets out of prison under the witness protection program and finds a job as a pilot on the US-FLY airline. However, on the verge of marriage and plans to adopt, her quiet life falls apart when the child she is hoping to adopt is kidnaped. (Primetime – Univision Network – W Studios)
La Bella y las Bestias (Beauty and the Beasts) – Isabela León returns to Mexico to open a mixed martial arts gym, or at least this is the story she uses to cover up her real mission. She truly returns to Mexico to avenge her parents’ deaths by eliminating, one by one, every “beast” involved in the murder of her family. Her physical strength and mental power prove that when the system fails, women can lead the path to justice. (Primetime – Univision Network – W Studios)
Bad Hombres (Bad Men) – Two brothers are separated in their youth and raised in different worlds. One follows his adoptive father’s footsteps to become the leader of powerful drug trafficking ring, and the other, raised by a high-ranking officer in the US military, becomes a U.S. Navy seal. “Bad Hombres” tells the story of their inevitable clash in a time of bi-national political upheaval as they try to hold on to love, family and their lives. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
El Último Dragón (The Last Dragon) – This crime drama follows Miguel Garza, a man caught in between two worlds—the one from his childhood in a violent town in Mexico, marked by the early murder of his parents and the family “narco” business he’s set to inherit, and his new life immersed in the sophisticated, financial world of Japan. Two worlds that seem distant and even in opposition to each other, but ones that Miguel will need to unite if he wants to protect his family and hometown. (Primetime – Univision Network – W Studios/Televisa)
Tijuana – This series kicks off the next wave of productions between Netflix and Story House Entertainment following the success of their first scripted co-production “El Chapo.” Antonio Borja is the editor-in-chief of the renowned Tijuana Weekly newspaper, and Gabriela Cisneros Gil is an idealist young reporter fighting her way into his newsroom. When the gubernatorial frontrunner is shot in the street, the reporters of Tijuana Weekly race to cover the story, but the facts they uncover run much deeper than the assassination–insidious corruption has been allowed to grow in the shadows. Violence and intrigue become the norm for Borja’s team of journalists as they often risk their lives in their crusade to expose the truth. (Primetime – Univision Network – Story House Entertainment/Netflix)
Por amar sin ley – 2da temporada (Love Without Law – Season 2) – Returning for a second season, this legal drama features Ricardo and Alejandra, two civil attorneys with an impeccable work ethic and integrity at the “Vega y Asociados” law firm, which will now operate under a new management. This season will return with more characters, more unexpected twists and will dig deeper into the lives of our beloved attorneys. The legal cases will continue to be based on real life events and remain relevant to Hispanic America, as viewers will be able to identify themselves with the different cases and situations that the attorneys will face. Por Amar Sin Ley 2 will feature a wide variety of high caliber celebrity guests throughout the season as clients of the law firm. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Las Buchonas (Cartel Queens) – This story, from the writer of the highly rated El Señor de los Cielos, chronicles a band of women who are confronting the status quo with a message of respect and progress. Aurora’s life changes the day her father is unjustly killed by the authorities. Once a regular citizen of Tierra Blanca, she becomes the leader of a group of women who rebel against an unjust patriarchy. (Primetime – UniMás Network – W Studios)
Juego de Reinas (Queens’ Game) – One of the unwritten rules of the narco world is that it is dishonorable to do business with women. The few who have entered the world of drug trafficking have had to prove that they are stronger and more bloodthirsty than the men around them. Four narco queens, motivated by their children, family, romances, and their thirst to power, will join forces to form an alliance against the status quo until they realize there is only room for one queen and each will have to fight for the throne. (Primetime – UniMás Network – W Studios)
Comandante Bonita (Beautiful Commander) – When her older son is murdered and her younger one kidnaped by members of a narcotics ring, a mother decides to take the law into her own hands, and takes on the identity of “Comandante Bonita.” She becomes the head of a vigilante group set on waging war on the drug lords, the corrupt government, and the military that does not sanction them. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Rosario Tijeras – 2da temporada (Season 2) – This is the continuation of the story of a paid assassin from one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in Mexico City, a mysterious and seductive woman who is loved by many and feared by her enemies. This time, Rosario is caught in the middle of the bloody revenge of two capos and will have to do everything possible to save her little brother and win back the love of her life, Antonio. (Primetime – UniMás Network – Sony Pictures Television)
Mi marido tiene familia – 2da temporada (My Husband has a Family – Season 2) – Returning for a second season, this dramedy pokes fun at traditional attitudes toward the extended family in a modern marriage. This second season will bring in new and fresh characters into Julieta’s and Robert’s lives. Julieta will now need to learn how to deal with her father living closer to her and her family. Our protagonists will experience a whirlwind of emotions and adventures
as they raise their two children while dealing with the in-laws who think they know better and want to be part of their lives as much as possible, even if it becomes obsessive and suffocating, especially for Julieta. Adding to the excitement and unexpected twists, this season will resolve the cliffhanger with the life of the character played by Silvia Pinal (Doña Imelda) as she suffered a stroke in the last minutes of last season’s finale. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Tenías que ser tú (It Had to Be You) – An 8-year-old girl and her perfectionist, organized and hardworking single mother move to the city when a job opportunity arises. Upon arriving at her new job, the mother discovers that her new boss is an old love, who nine years later is willing to win her back, no matter the costs. (Daytime – Univision Network – Televisa)
101 Pasos Para Olvidarte (101 Steps to Forget You) – Using very unconventional methods, a man known as “the guru of broken hearts” teaches a seminar to help those suffering from the scars of infidelity. However, he conceals his own pain for breaking up with his former partner. He meets a woman in his seminar, who also suffers from heartbreak, and ends up falling in love with her. Entanglements and misunderstanding ensue when they apply the seminar’s heartbreak manual to their situation and soon realize that in order to open themselves up to love again, they must leave the past behind. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Ringo – Ringo, a retired boxer, leads a modest life with his young son, but everything changes when his ex-wife, now lover of his main rival in the ring, returns to fight for parental custody. Ringo resumes his boxing career to prove that he can support his child. Based on the Argentine novela Sos Mi Hombre (You are the One), this story resembles the Rocky film series in which both protagonists must fight for their self-respect and to prove to those around them that they are not worthless. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Cantinflas – Chronicles the life of Mario Moreno “Cantinflas”, the biggest international star from Mexico, and a reflection of the wit and passion he had for his people. Referred to as the “Charlie Chaplin of Mexico”, Cantinflas was loved for his onscreen epitome of the bedraggled underdog who always, in the end, managed to endure his tribulations. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
L.I.K.E. (Life Institute of Knowledge and Evolution) – A group of teenagers and Generation Z entrepreneurs with diverse personalities, and opposing socio-cultural backgrounds will fight the norms imposed by the adults around them—parents, teachers and tutors of the L.I.K.E. institute. Together, they learn that with love, friendship and music they can transform their gray reality into one of hope. Driven by music, the series will span platforms making it a potential launchpad for a new teen music sensation as well as a TV show. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Paquita la del Barrio – The fictionalized life story of the beloved Mexican singer, Paquita La del Barrio, tells the story of a woman born in poverty who with effort and after suffering, overcomes her disappointments and failures. When she finally achieves success and fame she becomes one of the most beloved singers in all of Mexico or, as some call her, the ” Queen of the People.” (Primetime – UniMás Network– Sony Pictures Television)
La Jefa del Campeón (Mother of a Champion) – Tita, a beautiful woman of humble origin, must leave her hometown on the coast and move to the capital. In the city, her husband, Waldo, abandons her and their three children, leaving her to overcome all the hardships of poverty. Her son Rey dreams of being the nation’s top soccer player, and she will sacrifice everything to make it come true. Money is tight, but Rey makes her a promise: “Mom, with soccer, I’m going to buy you a palace. I’m going to take you to heaven.” Tita’s sacrifices, alongside Rey’s dedication and talent, bear fruit, and he becomes a successful pro soccer player. Tita remarries and, accompanied by all her friends who watched Rey grow up, goes to Russia for her honeymoon, where they see Mexico’s first 2018 World Cup match, in which Rey proudly wears the number 10 on his Mexican National Team jersey. (Daytime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Tres Milagros (Three Miracles) – Starring Marcela Guirado (Hasta Que Te Conocí), Fátima Molina (El Vato), Alexa Martín (Rosario Tijeras), and Joaquín Ferreira (Club de Cuervos), Tres Milagros follows the story of three women, who not only share the same name, but through a foreboding prophecy, seem destined to share the same life story, the same dreams, even the same love, but at least for one of them, not the same future. It remains to be seen if willpower and struggle is enough to break the curse. (Primetime – UniMás Network – Sony Pictures Television)
Los Principes No Existen (Princes Do Not Exist) – Laura is a woman who fears love because she believes that all men are unfaithful like her father. Despite her fears, she falls in love with the biggest cheater of them all. Once Laura discovers his deception, she dumps him, but already truly in love with her, he will fight to reconquer her. (Daytime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Atrapada (Trapped) – This series revolves around Mariana, a beautiful young woman who is forced to live in the streets and earn a living to support her little brothers. One day she meets Sebastian, a man who turns her into a professional thief after the murder of her parents. She will find herself face to face with a ghost from the past: the man who murdered her parents. (Primetime – UniMás Network – Sony Pictures Television)
Sin Tu Mirada (Sightless Love) – Based on the classic hit “Esmeralda,” this is an inspirational story of struggle and achievement. Two babies are exchanged at birth, the male will grow up in a rich family while the baby girl who was born blind will grow isolated in a humble and rural environment. In their youth they will meet and together overcome all obstacles to find love and discover their true origin. (Daytime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Espíritu De Madre (A Mother’s Spirit) – An unfortunate accident forces a CEO to become a surrogate mother to children whose actual mother has fallen into a coma. The experience eventually opens her heart, helps her discover a new way of looking at life and find the right balance between motherhood, love and career. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Hijas de la Luna (Daughters of the Moon) – This is the story of four sisters Juana Victoria, Juana Bárbara, Juana Soledad and Juana Inés. On the deathbed of Juana Victoria’s mother, she reveals that Juana Victoria’s real father is a man named Juan Moncada. Juana Victoria, overcoming the duel, decides to look for him and discovers that in addition to having a half-brother, Sebastian, there is the possibility of having three more half-sisters. Sebastian and Juana Victoria take on the task of finding the other three sisters to convince them to join them in the search of their real father. (Daytime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Mami – Love and acceptance forms the basis of this melodrama about a wife and mother whose story addresses the topics of identity and sexuality. After years of living in a seemingly perfect marriage, a husband discovers his wife kissing another woman. His masculinity wounded, he decides to seek custody of their children. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Jesus – The greatest epic saga that depicts the life of Jesus. From his relationship with his followers and disciples, to the day of his birth, death and resurrection, audiences will be able to experience and share the story of Jesus Christ. This is part of TV Record’s foray into series that continue to reshape primetime and whose collection includes the successful Moises y los Diez Mandamientos, La Tierra Prometida and more. (Primetime – Univision Network – TV Record)
Nuestra Belleza Latina (Our Latin Beauty) – NBL features U.S.-Hispanic women competing to break through society’s stereotypes of beauty. This Univision Studios production, which builds off the NBL franchise’s success, combines the excitement of a reality show with the glamour of a talent competition. “NBL” is for all women and about all women; accompanying contestants on their inspiring journeys, and uncovering their fears and joys as they represent the real beauty of Latina, both inside and out. (Primetime – Univision Network – Univision Studios)
Pequeños Gigantes – 3ra Temporada” (Little Giants – Season 3) – In this family-friendly reality show, groups of adorable and talented children from throughout the U.S. sing and dance with hopes of being recognized as the most gifted little entertainer. The children, ages 6 through 11, will test their artistic aptitude, ability to work together, and assume responsibilities beyond their years as they are mentored by celebrities and compete throughout the season, with the winner announced during the show’s season finale. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
¡Mira Quién Baila! (Strictly Dancing – Season 6) – A dancing reality competition that pairs 10 beloved Hispanic celebrities with professional dancers to compete in front of a live audience every week, dancing to a variety of different rhythms, all in the name of charity. A panel of well-known judges demands the best of contestants as they narrow the field, with the audience making the final decision and selecting the winner. The charity represented by the winning celebrity will receive a generous monetary prize. (Primetime – Univision Network – Televisa)
Reto 4 Elementos: Naturaleza Extrema (Four Elements Challenge Extreme Nature) – Inspired by the ancient Mayan civilization, 32 contestants grouped into eight teams meet in the mystical Riviera Maya to begin a life-changing journey. Each week they will compete for 4 million pesos while living in the conditions imposed by one of the 4 elements, they must work as a team to master the four elements: water, air, fire and earth, but they must also work individually to achieve the balance and succeed. Each person must decide if they compete for the money or for
the honor. (Primetime –UniMás Network– Televisa)
2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup – The tournament that crowns a champion between men’s national soccer teams from North and Central America as well as from the Caribbean, returns to Univision Deportes for its 15th edition. Sixteen national teams from the region including, reigning champion, the United States and Mexico, will return in the quest for regional supremacy. Guaranteed to add extra sizzle and excitement to the summer– it is the most highly anticipated sports tournament in 2019. (Univision Network, UniMás & Univision Deportes Network)
Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League – Each year, from August to June, the top soccer teams from professional leagues across Europe compete in the
world’s most prestigious club tournament, the UEFA Champions League. Featuring international powerhouses like Real Madrid FC (SPA), FC Barcelona (SPA), Chelsea (ENG), Manchester City
(ENG), Bayern Munich (GER) and global superstars such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr., the UEFA Champions League has a new home, coming to Univision Deportes in
August 2018. (Daytime – Univision Network, UniMás & Univision Deportes Network)
UEFA Europa League – In August 2018, one of the premier tournaments in the world will kick off on Univision Deportes with some of the greatest and most respected teams across Europe.
These teams, featuring established soccer and rising talent from across Europe, will face off to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. (Daytime and Primetime – UniMás & Univision Deportes Network)
UEFA Nations League – In the Fall of 2018, the greatest nations in Europe face off in this newly created tournament. In the end, only one country will hold the trophy and be crowned as the
champion of Europe. Among the nations competing in this prestigious competition are previous World Cup champions Germany, Spain, Italy, England as well as soccer juggernauts Portugal. The
UEFA Nations League launches on Univision Deportes in September 2018. (Daytime – Univision Network, UniMás & Univision Deportes Network)
Combate Americas – Univision Deportes partnered with Combate Americas to produce and distribute live MMA programming, which includes a total of 16 television airings across the
networks of Univision in 2018. The live shows air in a 90-minute window and follow the live stream of Combate Americas preliminary bout cards on UnivisionDeportes.com. The bouts are
also available through the Univision Now and UDN app.
2018 World Cup Coverage – While Telemundo has exclusive Spanish-language rights to game telecasts, Univision Deportes will deliver extensive pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage of the much-anticipated 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Fans can count on Univision Deportes to provide television’s most robust and insightful reporting from the month-long tournament, featuring the experience, analysis and cutting-edge technology that viewers have come to expect from the undisputed home of soccer. As part of the wall-to-wall coverage, fans can look forward to Minuto 45, TV’s only ad-free World Cup halftime show on UDN. Additionally, “Los Maestros” will bring some of club soccer’s most vocal coaches together to debate the tournament’s hottest topics, from lineup decisions to controversial calls. Univision’s news and entertainment programs, including flagship morning show Despierta América, news magazine Primer Impacto, entertainment news show El Gordo y La Flaca, and local stations across the U.S. will also feature updates and analysis throughout the tournament. Univision Deportes’ comprehensive slate of World Cup news, analysis and access will make its portfolio of broadcast, cable, radio and digital media assets the ultimate destination for futbol fanáticos this summer.