A surprise appearance by Sofia Vergara and performances by Shakira and Pitbull ensured attendees stayed alert as Univision today held its 2012 upfront event for advertisers and media. Univision repaid that attention by revealing details of its UVideos Digital Network, the cornerstore of a significant commitment to digital content that includes original content, second-screen experiences, and on-demand access to broadcast programming.

Univision’s advertising head David Lawenda feigned shock when Modern Family star Vergara (pictured) joined him on stage, asking what she was doing there. Echoing the network’s tagline, “Latinos Live Here,” she earned cheers when she replied, “I may work somewhere else, but this is where I live.”

Getting back to the actual news, UVideos will be accessible through game consoles, smartphones, tablets and connected TVs when it comes out of beta this summer. It also will include social capabilities such as TV check-ins, social streams, alerts and bonus content, and will be integrated with Facebook. Users can choose either Spanish- or English-language versions.

Among the exclusively digital programs will be three originals that Univision is calling webnovelas, the online equivalent of its telenovela dramas: Vidas Cruzadas and No Me Hallo, which have broadcast counterparts, and an untitled project starring Kate del Castillo. Del Castillo, who also stars in Vidas Cruzadas and had a recurring role in Showtime’s Weeds, soared in popularity following her role in the Fox Searchlight/Weinstein movie Under the Same Moon, the highest-ever grossing Spanish-language U.S. theatrical release.

Univision’s upfront presentation was held in New York City and was be hosted by Univision president and CEO, Randy Falco; Univision Networks president Cesar Conde; and president of Advertising Sales and Marketing, David Lawenda.

“Today, at least 20 percent of marketers’ target market is Hispanic, so what was once considered a niche is now an undeniable, mainstream growth opportunity,” Falco said, remarking on how much has changed over the network’s 50-year history.

Lawenda said that Univision has 94 percent live viewership, 68 percent unduplicated reach, and viewers who visit the network’s online presence twice as often as any other network. Besides which, he added, “Our millennial-heavy audience is a full generation younger than the audiences of the ‘Big Four’ networks.”

Related links:

Hollywood Reporter – Upfronts 2012: Univision Unveils Digital On-Demand Network

Portada – Univision pushes Digital at Upfronts, Introduces UVideos Network

Multichannel News – Upfronts 2012: Univision Prepping for ‘TV Everywhere’ Entry This Summer

The Wrap – Univision Announces 2012-13 Slate