Latinos on Verizon’s Horizon

Verizon Communications Inc. is continuing to build the lineup for its new video service, last week unveiling an extensive carriage deal with NBC Universal Cable, as well as plans to roll out Spanish-language packages.

“Verizon hasn’t been a stranger to the Hispanic market,” said Alexis Johnson, director of programming for Verizon’s FiOS TV. “We will have packages that are targeted toward the Hispanic population, which is really consistent with Verizon’s overall commitment to diversity in programming. The increased capacity that fiber provides really allows us to make choices that are really right for this community, recognizing the growth.”

His comments came on the heels of the latest in a string of programming deals closed by Verizon. Last week, the telco said it had reached a long-term carriage agreement with NBC Universal that essentially includes not only all the programmer’s existing cable networks, but also retransmission consent for the 14 NBC owned-and-operated broadcast stations and its 16 Telemundo TV stations.

As part of the new NBC Universal deal, Verizon has also committed to carry two new cable networks NBC now has in development, a horror outlet and a crime channel, sources said.

The agreement also includes carriage of USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, Bravo, CNBC, CNBC World, MSNBC, Trio, ShopNBC, NBC Weather Plus, Universal HD and the Spanish-language Telemundo and mun2.

Verizon said that in addition to offering an expanded-basic package, it will sell an alternative Hispanic basic package that will feature English- and Spanish-language services, including Telemundo and mun2. The precise array of Latino channels that Verizon will offer hasn’t been nailed down, according to Johnson.

“The exact number hasn’t been settled on just yet, but we definitely want to make more choice available, so it will be a robust offering, more than the market has seen, I think,” he said. “There will be different price points and different programming mixes, again to create more choice for the customer.”

NBC Universal Cable president David Zaslav said that his content company is “distribution-agnostic,” and that through its deal with the telco, “every one of our services will get carried to every Verizon subscriber.”

Verizon will carry NBC’s full broadcast signal, he added, which “gives us the opportunity to do what we’re doing now, or gives us flexibility over time as we develop additional digital data or video product.”

Verizon reportedly has concluded agreements to offer about 100 TV networks so far. Earlier this month, the telco announced a pact with the Starz Entertainment Group LLC for its 13 premium movie services, including Starz on Demand and Starz HDTV.