Bill Clinton and Ricky Martin Bookend Univision’s Upfront

Network-coined term 'billennial' is its target audience

It started with Bill Clinton, ended with Ricky Martin and mixed in some news, sports and telenovelas. It was Univision's upfront presentation Tuesday at the Lyric Theater in New York's Times Square, where a catwalk-like runway represented the theme of the morning: the way forward.

Univision is the only network to have a former U.S. president open an upfront—Clinton is close to Haim Saban, a major Clinton Foundation donor whose investor group owns Univision. Fusion anchor Alicia Menendez conducted a brief Q&A with America's 42nd president that included the following:

  • The power of the Hispanic purse: "There's about $1.2 trillion in buying power in Hispanic America."
  • Immigration reform: "What the legalization of immigrants would do—and a path to citizenship would do—is increase tax paying and decrease the deficit."
  • What keeps him up at night: "I worry that the people who want to kill their way to the top will be able to bring down vulnerable countries."

Then it was on with the show, which included a rollout of several new telenovelas, a nod to the scope and ratings of Univision News and a quiet goodbye to Mario Kreutzberger, aka Don Francisco, whose variety show has been a Saturday-night staple on Univision for more than 30 years. Sábado Gigante will end its run in September.

"For over 53 years, I have had the privilege and the honor of doing what I love: commenting with and entertaining people," said Kreutzberger. "I hope to work with you again in the future. Who knows? Todo es posible [Anything is possible]." The network also announced the creation of the Don Francisco Sábado Gigante college scholarship.

Unvision coined a new buzzword for its target audience: billennial, meaning the bilingual millennial. Ricky Martin, Laura Pausini and Alejandro Sanz will search for the next billennial music stars in the Simon Cowell-backed music competition series La Banda.

Network programming chief Alberto Ciurana touted late-night newscast Edicion Nocturna which continues to attract more younger viewers than its English-language competitors. Meanwhile, Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas, who co-achor the evening news, took to the stage to talk about the value Noticias Univision adds to the network.

Univision Sports chief Juan Carlos Rodriguez promised advertisers that the 100th anniversary of the Copa America in 2016 "will be bigger than the World Cup."

"You don't want to miss this, unless you want to wait another 100 years," Rodriguez said.

As the No. 1 Hispanic network in the U.S.—and some months the No. 1 broadcaster, ahead of ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC—Univision knows the future of its audience, even if its future ownership is less certain.

Bill Clinton said it best at the start of the presentation: "You need to be in the future business. That may sound funny coming from an older guy, but you have to live in the future to be creating a better tomorrow."

@ChrisAriens Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.