When Fox Sports hired Vincent Cordero last June to run its Spanish-language network, the network was called Fox Sports en Español and it depended on live sports, like the UEFA Champions League soccer. The channel now is called Fox Deportes, and under Cordero’s direction has launched several studio shows to supplement its events. The result has seen Fox Deportes claim seven of the 10 most-viewed sports in Spanish cable, including the highest-rated boxing match (a 3.11 rating with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.) and English Premier League match (a 4.0 for Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United). Cordero spoke with staff writer John Ourand last week about his first nine months on the job.
Cordero: We had to shift the way in which we viewed our network from niche to general market. We needed to fully focus on the U.S. Latin marketplace, to serve it at the highest levels with the highest production, with the highest level of content.
■ What do you mean?
Cordero: America has a new face, and it is Latino. The census just came out when I started. The U.S. Latino marketplace has 50.5 million people, representing 16 percent of the total population in the United States. In the key media demographic, adults 18-49, U.S. Latinos represent 22 percent in the United States. In Chicago and New York, Latinos represent 30 percent respectively; and 58 percent of the L.A. DMA.
■ How do you better reach that audience?
Cordero: We launched a new branding campaign. We programmed the way we schedule live events differently. And there was an opportunity to really focus on news and talk. That was something historically that we had not done. We launched three new shows: “Fútbol Sin Códigos (Football without Boundaries),” “Crónica Fox (Fox Chronicles)” and “Fox Deportes Extra.” With those three shows, we went from producing 277 hours of news and talk in 2010, to — on a yearly average — producing over 800 hours.
■ What’s the model you’re using?
Cordero: The model that seemed clearest to me is what Fox News has done. It owned their space by redefining it. They originated a distinct and authentic and entertaining voice across all content, with strong talent and strong production, tailor-made to serve a specific customer. That’s without fear; without qualification.
■ Soccer obviously is popular. What else resonates with viewers?
Cordero: If you look at our total hours, we produce 1,700 hours of live original event programming. Essentially, 1,400 of that 1,700 is soccer. Top Rank and UFC have performed very well for us. We are the exclusive home of postseason Major League Baseball, including the World Series. We just acquired Formula One last year. In sports television, it’s all about events, and we own the events.
■ Why the push into news and talk then?
Cordero: On the English side, if somebody thinks about sports, who do they turn to? For the Latino marketplace, when someone wakes up in the morning or goes to bed at night or is interested throughout the day, and it’s something about sports, we want to be the default.