DirecTV Adds Russian, Vietnamese Networks

With the Latino segment growing three times as fast as the general population, it is not surprising that cable and satellite providers continue to beef up their Spanish-language lineups.

But cable operators are increasingly looking beyond the Spanish-speaking population as an area of high growth.

At stake are over 100 million people who identify themselves as non-white, including Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians or Native Americans, per a population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau. That figure accounts for one-third of the U.S. population and is expected to continue to grow (see chart).

Among the most aggressive operators pursuing offerings from foreign networks is DirecTV, which this year added Vietnamese-language Honvietv and Russia's TV Nanny to its WorldDirect international service. Honvietv, which offers a combination of programming produced in Vietnam and the U.S., is an around-the-clock entertainment channel targeting the approximately 2.5 million Vietnamese who live in the U.S. Honvietv is available on channel 2078 on DirecTV's VietDirect Honvietv new programming package, which includes SBTN, TVB Vietnam and Little Saigon Radio.

Another recent addition to the WorldDirect platform is TV Nanny, the first Russian children's network aimed at kids 3 to 8 who live in the U.S. Programming includes educational shows and cartoons.

“Even Russian TV in Russia doesn't have a lot of content targeting children,” said John A. De Armas, vice president of DirecTV's WorldDirect.

TV Nanny is a product of Channel One Russia, one of Europe's leading broadcasters and programmers.

Honvietv and TV Nanny join a lineup of 117 channels in multiple foreign languages and are offered through premium packages that can be acquired only after subscribing to basic programming tier.

“If you look at the demographics of this country, the ethnic communities are growing much faster than the general population,” says De Armas, and though he declined to disclose how many people actually subscribe to these premium services, he said WorldDirect is one of the fastest growing areas within the company.

“I guess you can say immigration is good for DirecTV,” said De Armas.