Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has turned up the pressure on its hunt for a piece of the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic audience, adding Spanish-language movie channel Cine Estelar to its FiOS TV lineup. The deal for the channel expands the FiOS TV Spanish-language offering to more than 175 of the most popular channels available.
The addition of Cine Estelar specifically targets the growing Mexican population in the United States, Verizon said. Cine Estelar, along with Cine Nostalgia, which FiOS added last November, is part of FiOS TV's La Conexion package--which is now available in all FiOS TV markets.
"New additions to the FiOS TV channel lineup like Cine Estelar help to deliver even more value to our Spanish-language packages, providing consumers with one of the most robust offerings in the market today," said Michelle Webb, director of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon.
Cine Estelar, a 24-hour-a-day, color movie channel, features box office hits from the Mexican film industry from the ‘60s to date, with 260 premieres a year, 12 different titles every day and 5 new releases each week. Between it and Cine Nostalgia offer more than 3,000 exclusive titles, the largest library of Mexican movies in the world, and a significant feather in Verizon's cap.
Verizon, of course, isn't alone in the chase. Pay-TV providers, over-the-top sites Hulu and Netflix, device manufacturers Boxee and Roku, and a swarm of content providers have steadily been increasing their plays to the Hispanic audience.
And, it makes sense. The Hispanic population was the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population during the past decade, accounting for more than half of U.S. population growth between 2000 and 2010, according to the Census Bureau.
It's grown more than 43 percent to 50.5 million in 2010, and now accounts for nearly one in four people under 18, the Census Bureau reports.
Hulu scored a coup with Univision, for example, in October. It signed the top-five network to a multi-year deal that included hundreds of hours of Spanish-language novelas, variety shows, comedies and reality series from the Univision family of networks to run on Hulu and Hulu Plus.
"We're really excited about working with Univision to serve the broad Hispanic audience in the U.S., enabling our advertisers to connect with a young, very fast growing part of the population who haven't yet been able to access a substantial offering of culturally relevant premium Spanish language content online," said Andy Forssell, SVP of Content Acquisition for Hulu, at the time.
The deal infused Hulu with content and created a new advertising vehicle at the same time.
"The demand for Univision's content is tremendous and this will be the first time our most popular programming will be available on the Internet," said Tonia O'Connor, president of distribution sales & marketing at Univision Communications.
Univision Communications' assets include Univision Network, the most-watched Spanish-language broadcast television network in the country reaching 97 percent of U.S. Hispanic households, as well as an array of other programmers.
Hulu also signed a deal in December with 11 additional Spanish-language content partners for its Hulu Latino programming service. Content from Hulu's new partners-- Azteca America, Butaca, Caracol Televisión, Comarex, Estrella TV, Imagina US, Laguna Productions, Maya Entertainment, RCTV, Todobebe and Venevision--will start appearing on Hulu and Hulu Plus this year.
AT&T (NYSE: T) since August has offered a multiview option for its Paquete Español offering that allows users to chose from 53 channels, and to watch up to four at once. The programming was the second Spanish-language app made available on U-verse TV.
Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) in November added 37 Spanish-language channels to its app for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPad; Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) in October launched a package that contains 45 Spanish-language channels and more content from Puerto Rico, Cuba and Peru; and YouTube rolled out programming targeting Hispanics with the November launch of three of its first 100-plus promised original channels.
But it's not just the growth of the Hispanic population that has service providers drooling; it's the fact, as one recent study points out, that the Hispanic middle class has grown by 80 percent over that past 20 years. Discretionary income among Latinos has almost doubled in the past decade alone to some $72 billion dollars, according to a report from the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute.
That's a heck of a potential audience for advertisers, especially in a time of increasing viewer fragmentation.
"On average a Spanish channel line-up in any pay-TV platform is of 35 to 45 Spanish channels, and Cine Estelar consistently ranked every week of last year as the No. 1 channel right after main TV networks Univision, Telemundo, Telefutura and Galavision; and Cine Nostalgia ranked among the top 10 Spanish channels," said Carlos Vasallo, president and CEO of Cine Nostalgia and Cine Estelar. "U.S. Hispanics have direct access to his movie library thanks to multichannel operators Verizon and DirecTV and the distribution continues growing."--Jim