2008 CABLE SHOW: Univision To Kick Off VOD

NEW ORLEANS--Univision Communications will jump into the video on demand arena next year, offering some 1,000 of programming hours across multiples genres, including full matches from the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The Spanish-language media giant said it would begin making more than 1,000 hours of news, movies, entertainment and sports fare available to affiliates, starting next January.

Included in that offering: full-match replays of the world’s most popular sporting event, which kicks offs in South Africa in June 2010. The on-demand window for the quadrennial tournament would extend into early fall of that year.

Tonia O’Connor, executive vice president of distribution sales and marketing for Univision Communications, said the VOD packages are part of carriage renewal negotiations the company is engaged in for its primary Univision network, as well as sister broadcast service Telefutura and cable channel Galavision.

“We’re conversations with a number of different distributors and expect to have deals in the near term,” said O’Connor during an interview at The Cable Show ’08 here Sunday.

She declined to comment about whether terms centered on cash compensation.

Speaking at the company’s 2007 upfront last year, Univision chairman Joe UVA said that the “bulk” of its 62 station deals expired at the close of 2008 and that being connected to the fastest growing part of the U.S. population carried a value—$1 per subscriber.

O’Connor said the Latino population in the States was growing three times as fast as that of the general population.

“There are great opportunities for distributors and us to work together here and better reach the U.S. Hispanic market,” she said, adding that there were fewer than 100 hours of Spanish-language VOD programming currently available in the market. “We have real brand equity with viewers and Univision will be a real driver in this category.”

She noted that Univision would tout the VOD fare across the company’s holdings, including its Web site, radio stations and mobile vehicles.

On the entertainment side, subscribers would be able to access such fare as Premio Lo Neustro a la Musica Latina, the longest-running and most-watched awards show on Spanish-language TV honoring the best in Latin music, and Premios Juventud, an awards show saluting youthful Hispanics in the realms of music, fashion, pop culture and sports;

Additionally, Univision will serve up films, music shows, lifestyle and reality programming.

On the sports beat, Univision VOD will make its Solo Boxeo programming available, as well as Confederations Cup soccer. Action from the U.S. domestic league Major League Soccer, and the Super Liga tournament, pitting the top four MLS sides, versus their counterparts from the top Mexican division, could also be called up on-demand.

As for the 2010 World Cup, matches could be watched through Sept. 30 of that year. The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as under 20 and 17 competitions will also be accessible, according to Univision officials.

In November 2005, Univision paid some $325 million to secure the exclusive Spanish-language rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. Also included : the women’s tournaments in 2007 and 2011, plus 11 other competitions and events

Asked if Univision would make any of the content available via broadband, O’Connor replied that the company is open to such agreements, but noted that whereas there are common models for VOD, high-speed providers employ different strategies.