SVOD service aimed at US Hispanics launches; can it succeed?

By Jim O'Neill on Sep 14 2016 at 7:00 AM
SVOD service aimed at US Hispanics launches; can it succeed?

The booming Hispanic market segment in the United States is an enticing one with which numerous broadcasters have had middling success connecting to. Now, Univision, one of the Top 5 broadcasting networks in the U.S., is planning to partner with Lionsgate on a premium subscription video on-demand service (SVOD) they hope will gain the traction needed to help it dominate the market.

Scheduled to launch early next year, the movie service will feature Spanish-language films from Lionsgate’s Televisa and Pantelion Films arms, and Hollywood films from the studio’s library and other catalogues dubbed into Spanish.

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and Univision president Randy Falco in a joint statement said the venture would create “the first premium SVoD movie service designed specifically for the tens of millions of Spanish-speaking and bilingual Hispanic consumers in the U.S.”

Feltheimer added that the service “checks all the boxes for success – a world-class partner in Univision, films from the Pantelion brand that has great equity among Spanish-speaking audiences, strong management and a well-defined market opportunity.”

Falco, meanwhile, pointed out that Hispanic movie-goers are “one of the fastest growing segments of the entertainment business.”

“This platform offers a unique value proposition combining premium content, advanced technology and tremendous accessibility,” he said.

The service will be offered to pay-TV operators and also will be available on Univision NOW, which last month struck a deal with Netflix to show the streamers international original hit Narcos in the U.S. Univision NOW is a streaming service targeted at Millennials via mobile devices.

A market that’s drawing lots of interest

Univision and Lionsgate aren’t alone in targeting the increasingly lucrative Hispanic audience.
In August, for example, pay-TV operator Cox Communications announced it was increasing its pay-TV programing targeting Hispanics, adding “Pasiones,” a Spanish-language network that features telenovelas and drama series, and WAPA America, the cable network arm of the top broadcast network in Puerto Rico. Both networks are available on Cox’s Latino Pak video service.

It also launched “Glosi,” an Hispanic-focused video streaming service and online portal with thousands of hours of exclusive content and original programming with the look and feel of a premium entertainment magazine. The $9,99 service gives subscribers access to behind the scenes exclusives and social media updates of cast and crew.

Hispanics = OTT power users; but speaking Spanish? Or, English?

Hispanic make up just 17% of the overall population, but 21% fall into the Millennial category, the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. A Think Now Research study found that 48% of Hispanic Millennials were regular bingers, watching three or more shows back to back. But even older Hispanics – aged 35-65—binged regularly, some 32%. And, said the study, 60% of Hispanics said they watched an entire show in a single weekend, compared to 49% of non-Hispanics.

The Pew Research Center, in its State of the News Media Report for 2016, points out that as of 2013, 65% of Hispanics are now U.S. born and an increasing number – 68% -- speak only or mostly English at home, according to the U.S. Census.

Think Now’s study found that nearly three-quarters (71%) of Hispanics described themselves as bicultural or more acculturated.

Those statistics point to potential difficulties facing Spanish-language video services. Among Spanish-language news service sin the U.S., for example,, CNN Latino and MundoFox have all ceased operations. Univision’s Fusion, which had targeted Hispanics, also has changed its focus… to Millennials.

How will Univision’s venture with Lionsgate turn out?

Stay tuned.

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