Univision Launches Streaming Service for $5.99 a Month

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Spanish language network’s streaming service debuts as company pursues IPO

Univision Communications Inc. is launching a $5.99-a-month streaming service dubbed “Univision Now” that will allow consumers to stream its Spanish-language broadcast networks Univision and UniMás live.

The launch comes at a crucial time for the company, which announced its intent to go public in July but hasn’t consummated the offering amid skittishness among media investors. Univision’s new streaming service could bring the company a new source of revenue as it continues to chart its course toward an initial public offering.

People can already watch both Univision and UniMás for free over the air with an antenna. But until now, any streaming of their content has largely been limited to people who log in to so-called “TV Everywhere” apps by proving they are pay-TV subscribers.

Now, cord-cutters can pay to stream telenovelas like “Antes Muerta Que Lichita” and soccer matches from Liga MX, the Mexican soccer league, on mobile devices and outside the home. Univision is also offering an annual subscription to Univision Now at $59.99.

“Consumers have come to accept that they can access their favorite content anywhere,” said Tonia O’Connor, president of content distribution and corporate business development at Univision. “We have not been able to deliver on that with our over-the-air viewers because we had committed to ‘TV Everywhere,’” the strategy of keeping streaming TV network content behind a cable-TV paywall. “This is all about focusing on our over-the-air viewers and providing them access to the content they already enjoy” on digital devices.

The new service will offer primetime programming for seven days after shows air and offer a three-day DVR functionality that will automatically record the prior 72 hours of content for playback. Viewers in New York, Los Angeles and Houston will also be able to watch local news. The company said it is looking to add on local news market-by-market to its streaming service.

Univision Now adds to the smorgasbord of streaming services TV networks are making available to consumers, including HBO Now, CBS All Access, NBCUniversal’s Seeso and Showtime. That’s in addition to online versions of pay TV like Dish Network Corp. DISH 3.54 % ’s $20-a-month Sling TV and Sony Corp. SNE 0.45 % ’s Vue service.

It’s unclear how many of these will garner a critical mass of subscribers. Including the price of a broadband connection, these services can add up for consumers. But TV networks are banking on incremental revenue from their new digital businesses as the traditional pay-TV business comes under pressure. Though the much-smaller UniMás is up 12.5% in primetime viewership this season compared with the prior-year period, Univision’s flagship network is down 22% (measuring live plus seven days of time-shifted viewing).

Univision initially had plans to launch its IPO shortly after Labor Day, but growing uncertainty among media investors about the health of the pay TV business caused the company to wait, people familiar with the company’s thinking said. The company continues to watch market events, and there’s a possibility the offering may not happen until 2016, one of the people said.

Univision says its streaming service is aimed at broadcast viewers—not cable customers. The company’s many cable networks won’t be included as part of the service, nor will the vast amount of its on-demand library, which will only be available to pay TV customers. Because of the targeted market size, Ms. O’Connor said she doesn’t expect the new service will impact negotiations with cable TV providers or new digital distributors over the fees they pay to carry Univision’s networks.

“We’re not making this content available for free,” she noted. Customers will subscribe to those bundles when they want a variety, whereas Univision’s app will only attract “viewers that are loyal and committed to…only those networks.”

Certain content, including some movies on UniMás, won’t be available for streaming, because those rights haven’t been cleared. But the company noted that none of its sports content will be restricted.

The Univision Blackout Is About Money

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By Jon Healey, Los Angeles Tmes

The Spanish-language television network Univision is back on cable TV in Los Angeles after a two-day blackout, thanks to a temporary restraining order issued by a judge in New York.

Some consumer advocates argued that the blackout — caused by a contract dispute between Univision and cable TV operator Charter Communications — denied Latinos a news source they depended on to keep track of the developments in Washington that were dramatically affecting their communities. They wanted government to intervene because of, well, Trump.

There’s certainly a whiff of Trump conspiracy theories in the air. Witness this comment by 92-year-old Cypress Park resident Lorenza Muniz after she discovered Univision’s local channel, KMEX, had been blacked out on her Charter Spectrum cable service: “Is this Trump?” The Times quoted her saying to her son. “Is he doing this so Mexicanos don’t get any information?”

The ability to tune in TV signals isn’t an entitlement that government needs to protect somehow.

Local TV stations have long occupied a special place in American society. Their role as a conduit of information was seen as so important, they were granted the exclusive use of extremely valuable airwaves for free. But the ability to tune in those signals isn’t an entitlement that government needs to protect somehow. Television broadcasts are a product, competing with other products and trying to extract the best price from their customers.

There was a time when there were relatively few TV signals available — three major broadcast networks and a handful of local UHF stations — and a limited number of other news sources. (As a writer for a newspaper that went bankrupt not too long ago, I view those days as the Golden Age, and if making America great again meant restoring my industry to its pre-Internet dominance, I would have been all for it.) This is decidedly not that time.

It’s ridiculous to suggest that anyone “depends” or “relies” on Charter’s Univision feed for news. There is one other major Spanish-language network — Telemundo, owned by Comcast‘s NBC Universal subsidiary — and at least four independent local Spanish language broadcasters in Southern California. There are plenty of Spanish-language radio stations, two daily Spanish-language newspapers and an assortment of Spanish-language weeklies.

Add to that countless Internet feeds, including Univision’s $6-a-month Univision NOW, as well as at least two satellite-TV alternatives to Charter (AT&T’s DirecTV and Dish), and you’ve got an extremely healthy market for news and information.

It’s not in Univision’s interest to publicize this fact. The more it’s seen as vital or even irreplaceable, the more pressure there will be on Charter to pay higher fees to carry Univision’s stable of TV channels.

That, after all, is the real subject of this dispute, which began when Charter bought Time Warner Cable. Charter and TWC had different contracts with Univision — TWC, which had more customers, had negotiated lower fees. Univision insisted that the merged company negotiate a new deal, but Charter decided simply to pay the fees called for in TWC’s contract. Univision sued and set a Jan. 31 deadline; when the deadline passed without a deal, the network demanded that Charter stop retransmitting the two over-the-air and three cable channels it controls.

They play hardball in the TV business. That’s why blackouts happen across the country every few months; it’s why most Angelenos still can’t watch Dodger games on TV. This case is a little different because it boils down to how existing contracts should be interpreted, which is the kind of thing courts are often asked to resolve. But the core issue, as with every battle between pay-TV operators and networks, is how much the channel’s content is worth.

That’s something the market — that is, TV viewers — should decide, not the government. And if companies like Univision win every one of these disputes, cable bills will just keep going up and up and up. Which is not to say that Univision is wrong in this particular battle; that depends on whether Charter isn’t paying the price it agreed to pay.

The two sides have about a week to work out a deal before the restraining order lifts and the blackout resumes. Consumers shouldn’t stand idly by in the meantime. They can make their feelings known about Univision’s value by calling Charter and threatening to cancel their subscriptions unless it retains Univision — or tuning en masse to other channels.

Your Editor Comments: No confundan la magnesia con la gimnasia 

Univision Communications Inc. to Host Conference Call Tomorrow October 27, 2015

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Univision Communications will conduct a conference call to discuss its third quarter financial results at 11:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, October 27, 2015. A press release summarizing its third quarter financial results will be available on Univision’s website at http://corporate.univision.com/investor-relations/financial-information/ at the opening of business tomorrow, Tuesday.

To participate in the conference call, please dial (866) 547-1509 (within U.S.) or (920) 663-6208 (outside U.S.) fifteen minutes prior to the start of the call and provide the following pass code: 56357218. A playback of the conference call will be available beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET, Tuesday, October 27, 2015, through Tuesday, November 3, 2015. To access the playback, please dial (800) 585-8367 or (within U.S.) or (404) 537-3406 (outside U.S.) and enter reservation number 56357218.

TED Joins Vme TV to Produce “Soy TED”

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20150817 PG6 SOYTEDTED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), a nonprofit organization that promotes “Ideas Worth Spreading,” has partnered with Spanish-language network Vme TV to create a 13-episodes series, “Soy TED.” Debuting September 25 the series seeks to influence Hispanics to shape the future.

“Soy Ted” will feature guest speakers including former NASA astronaut and record holder for most spaceflights, Franklin Chang Diaz, and Carlos Páez, one of 16 survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 who spent 72 days in the “Cordillera de los Andes.” Journalist and motivational speaker Ismael Cala is also among the list of influencers who will incorporate their own ideas and experiences to build on TED Talks.

“When we looked at new ways to channel ideas from TED speakers to communities most likely to shape American society over the next decade, we kept coming back to the Hispanic public in the U.S.,” says Deron Triff, TED’s director of global distribution and licensing.

He points out that Latinos’ power and potential to transform America are accelerating rapidly, and that by offering them new knowledge could deliver interesting ventures.

“Our hope is to eventually attach other media companies, corporations and organizations to TED’s collaboration with Vme, opening doors to share, promote and find ideas worth spreading from the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S.,” says Triff.

“Soy TED” will be hosted by Vme TV chairman Eduardo Hauser and will feature TED Talks and videos that promote out-of-the-box thinking around innovation, science, learning, food, success, and the human condition.

“At Vme TV, we believe that smart, thoughtful television content directed at a new generation of curious, upwardly mobile Latinos will influence important advancements in America,” says Hauser. “We have a unique opportunity to share the wisdom of TED’s speakers in Spanish.”

 

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