One of two major Spanish-language television networks in the United States. (The other is the Sony-owned Telemundo). Begun in 1961 in San Antonio, and based nowadays in Miami. When Hallmark bought it in the 70s, they changed the name from SIN (the Spanish International Network) to Univision. Though the network would get sold again in the 80s, the name stuck. They also own the Galavision cable network.

For many years, pretty much the only place to see professional soccer on American TV was on Spanish-language stations such as these - and you might have to put up with snowy reception if you were without cable.

Home of a seemingly-endless stream of assembly-line telenovelas, soap operas (day and night) produced by broadcasters from Mexico to Venezuela and beyond. Erik Estrada's comeback was built, in part, on his gig on Dos Mujeres, Un Camino. "Don't call it a comeback"? Yeah, I'd agree. And there's plenty of narcotrafico flicks, imported from Colombia.

I will always have a soft spot for Veronica Castro - she served as my Johnny Carson late-night sleeping pill for a long time. And a soft spot for telenovela leading-lady Lucia Mendez, for different reasons. And Xuxa, perhaps my favorite four letter word.

Univision produces its own programming as well, though the amount has varied over the years, due to occasional budget constraints. Sábado Gigante, a multi-purpose fun fun fun Saturday-night beyond-variety show (originally a Chilean program, begun in 1962), with genial compere Don Francisco (Mario Kreutzberger). And the show formerly known as El Show de Cristína, hosted by Cristína Saraleguí, whose daytime talk show has tried, in recent years, to Oprahize the rest of Latin America, with mixed results.

Some folks have gone on to wider fame. Andres Cantor, a sportscaster whose frenzied goal calls led to poking fun at himself in commercials. Daisy Fuentes got her TV start as a "weather girl" at Univision's New York affiliate WXTV. Maty Montfort, one of the ladies on Sábado Gigante, later co-hosted a morning talk show on ABC, before Barbara Walters claimed the time slot for her very own. And, of course, that damn El Blablazo muppet and that bee-man from Chespirito, who has made his way into an episode or two of The Simpsons.

You needn't be fluent in español to watch.

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