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Robert Stearns Chairman and CEO Quepasa Corp.

Hispanic-targeted news portal recently announced it will begin streaming online the bilingual telenovela Alamo Heights. Hispanic Television Update recently interviewed Quepasa Corp. chairman and CEO Robert Stearns. An edited transcript follows:

Q: What was the motivation for acquiring the Alamo Heights?

A: Quepasa has a real desire to entertain and empower and enrich its membership base. These types of television feeds are wonderful from an entertainment standpoint. It is content that is directed precisely at our membership demographic and it is bite-sized so it is a win-win. We can distribute fresh content and build advertising revenues around it, which is great for our company.

Q: Your site clearly tries to attract a young audience. Does a telenovela fit in with that demographic?

A: I think it does. Our audience actually is not quite as young as perhaps you may think. Our demographic is probably 14 to 34 and that covers a pretty wide range. This particular broadcast may not necessarily appeal to 14-year-olds, but I think it will attract upper teens to young adults. It is sexy enough that it should be lively and it is soap opera-y enough that it will create repeated views and, I think, continued interest. It is [presented in] seven minute snippets. I think that will keep people coming back.

Q: Have you sold any sponsorships around Alamo Heights?

A: We are in the process right now of negotiating with several large sponsors who have expressed a very significant interest. We would do pre-rolls, we would do post-rolls and we have a spot in the middle if we wanted to do it.

Q: There has been a great deal of talk of online video sharing sites such as YouTube and talk of online viewing of television programs. Do you see this happening with Hispanic users as well?

A: Yes, it is huge. You are looking at the beginning of a tsunami. There is no question that Hispanic viewers are no different than English-speaking or German-speaking or Chinese-speaking viewers when it comes to video. They love video it is part of the entertainment matrix that they are completely familiar with and we intend to be very, very much a part of this. It is a high priority for Quepasa to have many, many television feeds.

Q: What about user-generated video content?

A: [That is] also absolutely central and one element of our strategy. It is a very interesting form of content that can be grown in many ways. And you will see at Quepasa during the next several months several product offerings involving this.

Q: Univision just reported its quarterly results yesterday and there was a dramatic increase in online revenues. It points to there being an increase in Hispanic online advertising. Have you experienced this as well?

A: Yes, I think that advertisers are aware that online advertising is extremely cost-effective and the demographic that advertisers increasingly want to reach are online more often than in front of a television. Online is a sexy medium and it is very cost-effective right now. Quepasa is right in the center of it. Our membership signup growth has tripled in three months on a daily basis. In other words, we are getting three times as many members signing up today as we had three months ago per day. That is a huge pick-up and we are not really spending hard to get that. You are seeing just the tip of the iceberg. You are seeing a real morphing of the way video is going to be conducted in the United States.