Univision's morning show is a real wake-up call

'Despierta America' has a formula that's pushing some regional ratings past the traditional English-language programs.

By Bruce Kennedy Jul 5, 2013 10:25AM

(From left) Channing Tatum, Karla Martinez ,Maria Elisa Camargo and Jamie Foxx appear on Univision's 'Despierta on June 24, 2013 (© Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)How do you like your TV morning show? The early time slot seems to offer something for everyone these days. That fragmentation has also led to a lot of well-publicized on- and off-screen drama at some of the older, more traditional programs like NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America" as the networks and cable channels scramble for their share of the morning show pie. After all, it's now worth an estimated $1.4 billion in advertising revenue.

But it appears a lot of the English-language programs could learn a thing or two from their Spanish-language counterpart over at Univision. The Los Angeles Times reports ratings for Univision's Miami-based "Despierta  America" ("Wake Up America")  have been maravilloso: up 28% recently compared with last season. And a lot of that lift is coming from highly coveted younger viewers with disposable income.

Univision's four-hour-long show has all the morning programming staples: news, interviews with celebrities and beauty makeovers. But it also has comedy skits and a very fast and loose, sometimes goofy atmosphere.

And it's attracting visitors from Hollywood. Halle Berry, Gerald Butler and Will Ferrell have been guests. And check out this clip of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx salsa dancing and fooling around with the program's hosts.

"The big stars don't always speak Spanish, but they do like the fun of the show," Karla Martinez, one of the program's hosts, told the newspaper.

The fun format's popularity has also helped "Despierta America" raise its ad revenue by 52% over last year's, to $163 million, while also giving Univision's overall network ad sales a big boost.

Its rising ratings are notable for sure. In the Los Angeles region, the nation's No. 2 TV market, "Despierta America" is the third-most-watched morning show, beating out programming on Disney's (DIS) ABC, Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC and CBS (CBS).

When it comes to morning programming, on-air chemistry and connecting with the TV audience are essential, and "Despierta America" recently hit upon a winning formula. It poached talent from Televisa's morning show while also bringing in a member of the 1980s boy band Menudo and a beauty queen to its stable of regulars.

"'Despierta' is totally different from how the other networks are program their morning shows," Lia Silkworth, a senior vice president of Chicago ad agency Tapestry, told the LA Times. "It is more lively. It feels like a party. And its growth shows the importance of connecting with viewers and being culturally relevant."

More on moneyNOW

Jul 5, 2013 2:24PM
the women are amazing and you're trying to reach a target market. why not go on the show?

in today's other news, the sky is blue. 
Jul 7, 2013 9:13PM
It's the good looking women on the show and that's the ONLY reason.
Jul 8, 2013 3:30PM
The rise couldn't possibly have anything to do with overwhelming flow of spanish speaking illegals and the push to make us all speak spanish.
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