Web-Based Video Network Targets Latinos

If Mio.TV founders have their way, bilingual Latinos in the U.S. will very soon turn to place for all their entertainment, news, sports, working documents, phone calls, e-mail and video games in on a single computer screen, absolutely free of charge.

“The future is here. Welcome to the future,” was the way Mio.TV chairman and CEO, Manuel García-Durán, introduced the soon-to-be-launched Web-based entertainment network during a demonstration of MIO.TV Beta earlier this month.

Mio.TV offers video channels with original content, gaming, social networking and VoIP, all within a single Web-based interface. The technology, developed in partnership with Sapotek, hasn’t been used or tested in any other market but, according to its promoters, it will forever change the way users receive their media, communications and entertainment.

“I like to call it love at the first click,” said García-Durán, who previously served as chairman of Telefónica Media, a unit of Spain’s telecom giant Telefónica SA.

The company’s plans are ambitious. Its goal is to produce the bulk of its programming content, up to 80%. To that end, Mio.TV has partnered with The Media Shop, a 22,000 square-foot production studio in Hollywood.

“This is the moment I’ve been waiting for all my life,” said Concepción Lara, the former HBO executive tapped as Mio.TV executive VP of programming. Since August, Lara has lead the Mio.TV’s California operations, working on some original shows already running in the Beta version. Mio.TV plans to open to the public in March.

Producing content is an expensive proposition but Mio.TV hopes to attract those advertisers who are eager to jump on the growing Hispanic market, which by 2010 is expected to represent a purchasing power of more than $1 trillion.

“We hear [new media buying] proposals all the time; but when Mio.TV approached us, we thought, ‘Hey, this is different,’ ” said Alex Alonso, multicultural director of Carat USA. “This goes beyond channel planning.”

Alonso said some of Carat’s clients have already expressed interest in putting their media dollar in Mio.TV although he declined to give specifics.

New York City-based Chadbourne & Park LLP is representing Mio.TV in its launch through an undisclosed initial investment; additional funds, said the network executives, are on their way.