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Venevision Goes to the Movies

Venevision International, the Miami-based distributor and production company, said last week it will launch a movie channel as part of Comcast's CableLatino package.

VeneMovies is a film channel programmed with U.S. Hispanic audiences in mind: original Spanish-language movies airing with English subtitles.

That combination may allow VeneMovies to attract a broader range of Hispanics.

Indeed, a recent survey by a Miami market research and public-opinion polling firm bolsters the contention that U.S. Hispanics' viewing habits are tough to pin down.

The survey, conducted in April with 335 adults age 18 plus, found that 57% of Spanish-speaking immigrants watch some TV in English, while 75% of the U.S.-born Hispanic population watches some Spanish-language television.

And among all respondents who said they watch television in both languages, 47% of them said they like to watch in either language equally. Another 7% had no preference.

Of the U.S. born respondents who watch in both languages, 40% said they prefer English television versus 10% who prefer Spanish. Among the foreign born, only 30% said they prefer Spanish.

“We were surprised by the tremendous overlap between English-language and Spanish-language viewing, across all Hispanics,” whether they were immigrants or U.S. born, says Lourdes Prado, project director at Encuesta Inc., of the study results.

The inclusion at the beginning of this year of the Spanish-language broadcast networks in the main Nielsen ratings index solidified Univision's longtime claim of “We're number five.”

But in a few big cities, they're better than that in some demographics, particularly for its newscasts.

While Univision is the most orthodox Hispanic outlet—and the overwhelming ratings leader—it's clear the mix between English and Spanish-language modes is continuing to blur. After all, the telenovela last week made its debut on U.S. English-language primetime, with MyNetwork TV.

Arguably bridging both worlds is ABC's upcoming Ugly Betty, the adaptation of the international hit Yo Soy Betty, La Fea. The original Colombian production was remade by Mexico's Televisa as the also popular La Fea Mas Bella, and both Spanish-language versions have aired on Univision.

Additional reporting by Mary Sutter