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‘Despierta America’ is waking up morning TV

Posted 12:00am on Thursday, Jul. 04, 2013

MIAMI — On the set of Univision’s live morning show, the hosts don goofy wigs to sing and perform outlandish skits, while a Chihuahua named Honey Berry scampers underfoot.

Univision’s zany Despierta America has experienced a Cuban coffee-like jolt in the ratings. Ratings for the four-hour daily news and variety show, whose name means “Wake up America,” have jumped 28 percent compared with last season, boosted by younger viewers coveted by major broadcast networks.

“If you are going to watch TV in the morning, you want to wake up to something that makes you laugh and feel good,” said Gloria Constanza, chief contact strategist for the advertising agency D’Exposito & Partners.

Morning shows are big business and are sometimes a network’s most profitable show. Last year, morning programs on broadcast and cable TV raked in a combined $1.4 billion in advertising revenue, according to Kantar Media.

But fortunes have been shifting. NBC’s Today lost its No. 1 perch to rival ABC’s Good Morning America last year amid revelations of behind-the-scenes tensions at NBC and the tearful exit of co-host Ann Curry.

In contrast, “ Despierta’s format is so friendly, people feel like it is inviting them in,” Constanza said.

In the past year, trying to increase their exposure with Latino audiences, A-list stars have trooped to the Miami set, among them Mark Wahlberg, Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Will Ferrell and Halle Berry.

Lia Silkworth, senior vice president of Chicago’s Tapestry ad agency said it will be interesting to see whether the show is a wake-up call for English-language networks, which might borrow some of the show’s elements.

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