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MundoFox takes on Univision and Telemundo

The set of the MundoFox gameshow, Minuto Para Ganar. Host, Marco Antonio Regil asks participants if they want to move on to the next phase of the game or take their winnings home.

Kai Ryssdal: Those who fear a television wasteland now that the Olympics are over, take heart. There's a new offering on the airwaves. The only prerequisite being proficiency in Spanish. MundoFox went on the air this morning. Rupert Murdoch knows a little something about the media business and he wants a slice of this country's fast-growing Latino demographic.

Marketplace's Shereen Marisol Meraji has more.


"Minuto Para Ganar" announcer: El juego comienza en tres, dos, uno...

Shereen Marisol Meraji: You're listening to the count-down clock for "Minuto Para Ganar" -- MundoFox's Spanish version of the NBC gameshow "Minute to Win It." It premiers, today, across the U.S. And today also marks the start of a competition between Spanish language broadcasters Univision, Telemundo, and MundoFox. The prize, a trillion-dollar market.

Marco Antonio Regil: Those 50 million Latinos that are fastly growing, that are making more and more money, that are being established here, and that are not well served.

That's Marco Antonio Regil. Wait, you don't know him?

Regil: I did the "Price is Right," the "Family Feud," "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader," "Dancing with the Stars."

In Spanish. Regil was a popular game show host in Mexico and he worked for Univision in Miami for many years. Now, he's betting on MundoFox and Minuto Para Ganar. And, Regil isn't the only Univision expat at MundoFox. Otto Padron is the former VP of programming. Now, he's running MundoFox's flagship station in Los Angeles, the biggest Spanish-language market in the U.S.

Otto Padron: What I particularly like about the MundoFox affiliation is that Fox does not know how to fail.

Padron points to Rupert Murdoch's 1986 battle with the broadcast triumvirate: ABC, CBS and NBC.

Padron: They went after the NFL, they got the NFL, they went after Major League Baseball, they got Major League Baseball. And these are the kinds of associations that you want to have on your side when you're trying to break through a very competitive environment -- which is Spanish language television, because up to now, really Univision has really dominated.

MundoFox is marketing itself as diverse and different.

MundoFox Ad: Soy Mexicano, Americano, Cubana Americana...

This ad showcases an array of faces from that 18-34 Hispanic demographic that all the broadcast networks, not just the Spanish ones, so desperately want to reach. They're Hispanic, but they're also American.

MundoFox Ad: Americano como tu.

Hispanic marketing expert, Juan Tornoe, says the ad works.

Juan Tornoe: It gives me the warms and fuzzies and a little tingling feeling when I see all these diverse faces that, by the way, are not stereotypical Latino faces telling me Americano como tu!

But Tornoe adds that a 30-second promo is one thing, diverse content that appeals to the American Latino, that's something else. He says American Latinos that speak Spanish want more then telenovelas, soccer games, and cleavage-baring news anchors. They want smart entertainment -- think shows like "Mad Men," "The Office" and "The Wire."

Alex Nogales is the CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Alex Nogales: It's so hypocritical because they blast us and then they want to compliment us with something that's very much ours.

Nogales says the company responsible for Fox News and what he calls its anti-immigrant rhetoric might just use the Spanish-language market as a cash-cow. But, in this competitive media landscape MundoFox will have the equivalent of un "Minuto Para Ganar" to hook Latino viewers. Or else...

"Minuto Para Ganar" buzzer

I'm Shereen Marisol Meraji for Marketplace.

About the author

Shereen Marisol Meraji is a reporter for Marketplace’s Wealth & Poverty Desk.
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