For MundoMax, an increasingly uncertain future
Network has gone off the air in New York and may lose other affiliates
August 8, 2016
This article is part of an ongoing Media Life series entitled “Catching the next big wave: Hispanic media.” You can read previous stories by clicking here
When viewers in New York City tuned in to MundoMax earlier this week, they got a surprise.
Instead of the RCN-owned Spanish-language network, which features a mix of telenovelas, reality and game shows, they got América Tevé, an independent Spanish-language network originating in Miami that focuses on news and entertainment.
América Tevé took over MundoMax’s NYC frequency, WPXO-LD 34.1, on Monday. It also replaced MundoMax in Puerto Rico that same day.
New York is the country’s biggest market, and losing that signal is another sign of trouble for MundoMax, which launched as MundoFox four years ago. Last summer, Fox Entertainment Group pulled out of the joint venture, leaving RCN to continue alone. As of last October, it had 42 affiliates.
What exactly is the network’s future now, a year after the split? No one seems to know, or at least they’re not commenting on it.
MundoMax and its PR firm have not returned phone calls from Media Life about the change in NYC and the network’s future plans.
A spokesperson from América Tevé confirmed that MundoMax was off the dial in New York. When asked to further elaborate on the takeover of the station, she said, “I can’t say where the process is right now, they’re [MundoMax] still in the process of evaluating the situation.”
A person inside MundoMax, who spoke with Media Life on condition of anonymity, said the network is losing other affiliates but did not say where.
Other sellers in the Hispanic marketplace have speculated that MundoMax is waiting until after the upfront has finished up to decide its future. That would be sometime later this summer.
Hard times for MundoMax
Of course, losing Fox’s backing was a tough blow for RCN, one many considered potentially a knockout. Fox was a powerful U.S. partner, and an ideal partner for a Latin-American television company seeking a foothold in the U.S., giving it a status similar to that enjoyed by Telemundo through its ownership by NBC.
The fact that MundoMax has survived this long—it even rolled out a much-hyped new novela, “Azucar,” this spring that drew decent ratings to start—is surprising to some buyers.
“It never had much of a chance to get share from the Univision, Estrella and Telemundo affiliates,” one buyer says.
If MundoMax is in the process of losing other affiliates, Media Life found no evidence of that in a quick round of calls to station groups yesterday.
Cocola Broadcasting, the owner of MundoMax affiliates in Fresno, Sacramento, Bakersfield, Monterey and Boise, said the stations remain on the air.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns several MundoMax stations, and Meruelo Group, which owns the Los Angeles station, did not respond to Media Life inquiries.
Other stations face selloffs
Buyers say MundoMax has been on shaky ground since Fox’s exit last year. A number of stations have switched owners in that time, including one in Salt Lake City.
“Ever since [the local owner] sold the station to some obscure company last year, we’ve heard nothing and have never really considered it an option for our buys,” says one buyer in the West.
Other MundoMax stations have been targets for groups hoping to make a profit in the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction. Last October, NRJ TV purchased KFWD, MundoMax’s Dallas-Fort Worth station, for just under $10 million.
Though KFWD has remained on the air, NRJ TV is expected to accept a bid from the FCC to shut down, turning a healthy profit and leaving the network without an affiliate in another large Spanish-language market.
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