StartupCloseup: SiTV

Move over Univision and Telemundo. In the battle to become the network of choice for young Hispanic Americans, there's another player: SiTV.

When it debuts on the air in the fourth quarter of 2003, SiTV will be the first network to provide English-language, Latino-themed programming to young Hispanic Americans, the fastest-growing minority group in the US.

SiTV has already received commitments from both cable and satellite providers, a full two seasons before its actual debut. In late January, Dish Network announced it would carry SiTV on its 150-channel programming package, providing the channel with its first nationwide commitment. It is also close to announcing another deal, this with a major cable provider with a significant subscriber base in Hispanic markets nationwide. That would boost SiTV's initial distribution to a little more than 4 million subscribers, with plans to double that by the end of 2004. Leo Perez, VP of SiTV, indicated that the distribution agreements show there's enormous interest in the channel.

About 60% of the US-resident Latinos were actually born in this country, and this group has a median age of 18. Its that audience that SiTV is targeting, not the older US-Hispanic audience who are primarily born elsewhere. This group tends to spend more time watching the three existing Spanish-language networks. Perez commented that those three networks only reach about half of Hispanic households in the United States. This opens a vast audience of Hispanic Americans who want Latino-themed programming in English and not Spanish.

As Perez said, "We often tell folks, that the Spanish networks have their targeted audience, and that's fine, but it's not our audience." The new network's programming will be about half original and half acquired, with all trying to appeal to the perceived core audience between 17 and 24 years of age. There will be a heavy comedic skew in series, movies, and specials. Advertising will come not only through traditional spots but also within product integration and promotion opportunities.

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