By Andrea Siedsma
Univision and (to a lesser extent) Telemundo have long controlled Spanish-language television in the United States. Marco Camacho and his crew at Hispanic Television Network Inc. (HTVN) hope to change that.
HTVN, the nation's newest Spanish-language television network, has designs on becoming a dominant new media player. That may sound ambitious for a company that's barely a year old, but HTVN executives say the network has something the competition doesn't – the adoption and early use of digital technology and the Internet. HTVN is digitally delivered via satellite 24 hours a day from the company's headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
As of early June, the network had more than 40 affiliates and 27 owned, contracted, or licensed TV stations broadcasting to more than 20 million U.S. homes. HTVN has also inked an exclusive programming agreement with Mexinema, a distributor of first-run and classic Mexican movies, for more than 400 movies over the next four years. Under another agreement, Excalibur Media Group will provide HTVN with 100 first-run Mexican movies over five years.
HTVN also has an exclusive licensing agreement with MVS Multivision Television of Mexico, the third-largest content provider of original programming in Mexico. Under the agreement, MVS will supply HTVN with entertainment programming, including the daily shows "MVS Noticias" and "Score Final" and the variety program "Evento Pulsar."
HTVN also plans to expand into global high-speed video streaming over the Internet. This spring, the company signed a deal with Silicon Valley-based Cubico.com, a Hispanic Internet portal. Under the agreement, the Cubico homepage will include a hyperlink button enabling Internet users to watch HTVN programs. Marco Camacho, HTVN's CEO, says the relationship with Cubico.com increases HTVN's market reach and provides another advertising revenue stream.
HTVN, which owns 38 percent of Cubico.com, also owns 16 percent of NetForAll, an interactive TV service co-owned by International eCommerce in Houston. The network also has signed on Yahoo! to provide Internet broadcasting solutions.
Mr. Camacho says such alliances are necessary for companies that want to survive in this market. It's all about convergence, he says.
"I think we're seeing the very beginning of streaming video on the Internet. All it's going to take is some genius in Silicon Valley to come up with software to make your laptop look like high-definition television."
Jim Ryffel, cofounder and chairman of HTVN, says the network has a strategic advantage because it offers digital programming. The other Spanish-language networks operate on an analog system.
HTVN's interactive education goals include developing an after-school program that provides instruction for young Hispanics on topics such as how to use the Internet to do homework.
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