Hot TV: Dish Launches Pasiones, All-Telenovela Network

Tormenta de PasionesMany cable and satellite operators are turning to foreign-language channels as a way to attract customers. Conventional wisdom holds that the market for subscribers is saturated. Notable growth will not come from bringing in first-time customers, but peeling them away from competitors.

Dish Network, the satellite operator with nearly 14 million subscribers, recently kicked off a DishMexico package of some 50 channels designed to appeal to a U.S. Mexican audience. And at least one of the channels, launched Tuesday, will be exclusive to Dish in the U.S.--at least for now: Pasiones, an all-telenovela network, airs 24/7. (It is also available on the DishLatino offering.)

Pasiones, which was launched in Latin America in July, will draw on soap operas from that region: Argentina to Uruguay, Brazil to Mexico. Titles include "Puerto de los Milagros,""Tormenta de Pasiones" and "Metamorfosis."



Telenovelas have propelled much of the ratings and revenue gains at the dominant U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision--although like the market at-large, the advertising slowdown has recently affected the network as well.

Juan Pablo Santos, Pasiones general manager, said the telenovela outlet offers "a multicultural approach," referring to its aim to appeal to a U.S. Mexican audience. The DishMexico package costs Dish subscribers an additional $9.99 a month for an initial six months, and then the cost rises to $19.99.

"Dish Network is continuously looking to satisfy the Latino community's entertainment needs through unique and exclusive high-quality programming," said Eric Sahl, senior vice president of programming at the satellite operator.

Not to be outdone, Dish competitor DirecTV last month began carrying Telecentro--a channel that offers programming from Central America, including newscasts and live soccer games, and the History Channel's Spanish-language offering. Both are on its DirecTV Mas Spanish-language service.

According to Nielsen, Hispanics are still the fastest-growing national segment of the population, with TV households increasing by 4.4% in 2007 versus the previous year.


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