How Telemundo nearly tripled its YouTube audience this year

It’s been a banner year for Telemundo on YouTube.

The Spanish-language network’s main YouTube channel, which crossed 1 million subscribers over the Thanksgiving holiday, added more than 613,000 subscribers between January 1 and October 31. Over the same period, the channel also generated 460 million views (up 262 percent from the previous year) and more than 3.1 billion minutes in watch time (up 278 percent).

The numbers are more remarkable considering the YouTube channel only launched in September 2011. Telemundo credits the growth to integrating social into its overall digital programming and distribution strategy.

Three years ago, Telemundo’s digital and social teams operated independent of each other. It was then the network decided to merge both teams under its Telemundo Studios division. The task: to focus on how “each show should play out on each platform and in what language,” according to Peter Blacker, evp of digital media and emerging businesses at NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises.

But what began three years ago has really taken shape in 2015, even as the strategy continues to evolve as new social platforms rise. For instance, today, everyone from showrunners to Telemundo digital programming executives are invested in how show content should live across platforms. “Every single one of my programming people has to be thinking about all of these platforms,” said Blacker.

The approach has really been working on YouTube, where the network aims to enhance its existing TV series by providing additional content. Some TV shows, such as “Caso Cerrado” (“Case Closed”) — a sort of “People’s Court” style show — have their own channels, which provide show clips as well as original videos exclusive to YouTube. “That’s really exciting when you have the show’s producers involved, who want to create more content and get more people to become fans of the show,” said Blacker.

Elsewhere on YouTube, Telemundo provides similar fan services. For instance, it regularly publishes summaries of its top series in both English and Spanish. It’s a catch-up mechanism, but one that serves viewers who are highly engaged with the program and just want more content related to it.

Not all YouTube content is built on top of an existing show, either. Telemundo’s “Women of Today” channel focuses on women’s and lifestyle issues. The network regularly has people contribute “life hack” videos, which it publishes to the channel and occasionally even takes them to other platforms including TV. The network also has a partnership with Mashable to create original Spanish content for YouTube and other platforms.

And it’s not just Telemundo’s main YouTube channel that is benefiting. Its network, which has 11 channels, also grew this year. Between January 1 and October 31, all channels combined to add 1.1 million subscribers, 761 million views and 4.58 billion minutes of watch time. In total, all channels combine to reach 2 million subscribers on YouTube.

Of course, as other digital video publishers have learned, YouTube no longer has a monopoly on video. Telemundo’s evolving social strategy takes this into account.

On Facebook, where Telemundo’s main account has more than 7 million fans (57 million fans across all shows), the network is also experimenting with video. But here, Telemundo — like a few other networks — has been partnering with Facebook to generate interest for upcoming programming. The network will either release preview clips or sometimes even full episodes of a show.

“In each case, we have seen strong ratings for the shows that we have offered pre-linear,” said Blacker. Overall, Telemundo’s main Facebook page generated more than 15.1 million views in October, according to social video analytics firm Tubular Labs.

Outside of YouTube and Facebook, Telemundo has 6 million Twitter followers, 3 million on Instagram and 67,000 on Vine. All of these platforms are in play for video and other forms of social content.

“We need to be where our audience is,” said Blacker. “A fan of one of these shows is going to spend a certain amount of time on YouTube, Facebook and other social platforms, and the fact is that they want different things in each of those areas. The good thing is we make so many hours of content that we have this enormous engine to feed it.”

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