Skip to main content

Roku Jumps Into Crowded Spanish-Language TV Streaming With Espacio Latino

The Roku Channel Espacio Latino
(Image credit: Roku)

Seeing opportunity in streaming in the growing Hispanic community, Roku on Monday launched Espacio Latino on The Roku Channel.

The service is free and ad supported, with Lego Group as the launch sponsor.

The debut follows TelevisaUnivision launching its ViX streaming service and Comcast’s NBCUniversal Telemundo producing original shows for and establishing a hub on NBCU’s Peacock.                                                                                                                                                          In a twist, programming from both TelevisaUnivision and Telemundo appears as part of Roku’s Espacio Latino.

Roku Espacio Latino

'Natural Born Narco' is coming toe Espacio Latino on July 8

Telemundo is among the programmers joining Roku for the first time as part of the effort. Other new programmers on Roku include Hemisphere Media Group, Cisneros Media, Euro Channel, The Weather Channel en Español and Canela TV. Espacio Latino will also feature programming from A+E Networks, BBC Studios, Sony Pictures Television, Film Movement, Pantaya, EstrellaTV and beInSports.

Roku has been building up its original programming, partly through acquisitions such as the library from the quickly defunct mobile streaming service Quibi. The telenovela Natural Born Narco, created for Quibi, will debut as part of Espacio Latino on July 8. The recently released series Mamas, narrated in Spanish by Zoë Saldaña, will also be available.

The Roku Channel previously had some Spanish-language content, Ashley Hovey, head of the Roku Channel, AVOD, told Broadcasting+Cable. Spanish-language viewers were coming back to The Roku Channel about three days a week. “When we started seeing that trend, we really wanted to bring them our signature kind of experience, which is large, easy-to-use, personalized with a great ad experience,” Hovey said.

To get to Espacia Latino now, users will have to click through the Roku Channel, where the demand for free content is most prominent, but it could move onto Roku's main page in the future. “Usually we have an evolution of these things. We start on the Roku Channel,” she said. “But there is absolutely an opportunity for us potentially to have a platform-wide experience.”

Espacio Latino, like other Roku services, is free and ad supported.

“We’re able to replicate our ad experience, which we are very proud of. This is going to be half the ad load of linear television,” Hovey said. “Because of our direct relationships with our audience, we’re able to deliver more relevant ads in that space.”

She said that 70% of Roku’s Spanish-language households are not reachable on cable. “This is becoming a more in-demand audience that’s harder to find, which is why those advertisers are starting to lean in more and more.”

As launch sponsor, Lego will be sponsoring movies and will be featured in native advertising on screen. ■

Natural Born Narco

(Image credit: Roku)

In addition to on-demand content, Espacio Latino will include more than 50 Spanish-language live TV channels, half of which are new to the Roku channels. The channels are curated by programmers who will be able to promote other shows and channels.

“One of the things that the Roku channel does really well is work with those partners to make sure that their content is getting in front of audiences wherever that audience is,” Hovey said.

Espacio Latino will have thousands of hours of free movies and TV shows in Spanish.

“We’ve curated tons of content that appeals to this audience,” said Thalina Bates, Manager of The Roku Channel, AVOD, Spanish Language. “We’re talking about novels, series, movies.”

She added that the services will also have some popular English language tities. “We are offering them with Spanish-language subtitles and in some cases they are dubbed to Spanish because that’s how we enjoy watching our content,” Bates said.

Users subscribed to any Premium Subscriptions through The Roku Channel will have access to the content in Espacio Latino.

“We are proud to partner with The Roku Channel who shares our values in making Spanish-language content more accessible to consumers and offering them a rich viewing experience. It’s exciting to be a part of the launch of Espacio Latino and we look forward to providing the platform with the premium content we know our audiences enjoy. As content providers, our goal is to meet viewers where they are, and this new partnership gives us the opportunity to deliver on our promise to bring high-quality, culturally relevant content to the Hispanic/Latino communities we serve.”

Some of the shows that will only be available on Espacio Latino include Hernan starring Oscar Jaenada and Michel Brown form A+E Networks, Hunting Ava Bravo starring Kate de Castillo from Wild Sheep Content, Top Dead Center Films and Challawood Productions; and Enamorada starring Gaby Espino and Rene Lavan from Cisneros.  ■

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.