News

A Net With Island Flavor

9/09/2007 8:00 PM Eastern

Looking to appeal to “the forgotten region of the Caribbean along the East Coast of the U.S.,” CaribeVision is scheduled to bow with a hybrid distribution format on Tuesday.

CaribeVision, through a number of owned TV stations and leased-channel agreements with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Atlantic Broadband, will have access to some 7.7 million households in the U.S. and Puerto Rico when it bows Sept. 11.

The 24-hour service, owned by CaribeVision Holdings, is taking aim at the Hispanic Caribbean audience, including Dominican and Puerto Rican viewers, plus the general population, via a traditional broadcast-programming model that will initially comprise English-subtitled telenovelas, talk shows, comedy, drama, sports, movies, news, children's shows and special events.

POWER DUO AT HELM

The lineup is also expected to include a host of interactive elements, encouraging viewers to vote on which fighter took the last round in a boxing match or submit their opinions about novela story lines via the telephone and the Web.

CaribeVision is the brainchild of chairman Alejandro Burillo Azcarraga, a member of the Azcarraga television family in Mexico and the U.S. and a founding executive and owner of Grupo Televisa; and CEO Carlos Barba, a co-founder of both Univision and Telemundo.

Viewing the fledgling service as complementary to Univision and Telemundo, CaribeVision, Barba believes, will fill a programming gap not covered by the Hispanic TV giants.

“Our network will place emphasis on attracting the Puerto Rican and Dominican audiences, as well as other Caribbean and Latin Americans,” Barba said. “Our programming will capture the unique and vibrant spirit of the Caribbean.”

Barba said 60% of the network's programming will be acquired and 30% originally produced and owned by CaribeVision.

The network has concluded programming and output deals with a number of production companies, including Brazil's Rede Globo Television, which will create eight telenovelas per year for CaribeVision.

Another key programming element: CaribeVision will create segments wherein people living in Miami, Fla., New York City and Puerto Rico will be able to convey messages to relatives and friends across the miles.

At launch, CaribeVision will be available on WPXO-LP in New York, a station acquired from Paxson Communications; WFUN in Miami, Fla. (Localone Texas Ltd.); and four stations and a trio of cable outlets in Puerto Rico.

The network has also secured channel-lease agreements with Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey (channel 804), Atlantic Broadband (channel 83) and Comcast, where it has analog positioning on channel 15 in metro Miami and on digital in other areas. Barba noted that CaribeVision's arrangement with Comcast allows it to solicit carriage in other markets.

Barba and Azcarraga also have plenty of expansion on their minds. The executives are currently eyeing deals for TV stations in Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and Palm Beach, as well as in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington D.C. Barba said the company hopes to add to its East Coast station roster by year's end.

HEADING WESTWARD

Beyond that, Barba said CaribeVision Holdings would like to move westward, mentioning Chicago and Los Angeles as markets the company expects to have a presence in by conclusion end of 2008.

He noted that in moving beyond its East Coast base, the network would use a different feed to supply programming that would target Mexican Americans.

On the advertising front, Barba said CaribeVision has sold some $17.5 million worth of time, 70% of it to national advertisers, including Coca-Cola, and 30% to local marketers, according to Barba.

The network features “commercial wraps” in which spots will flank “messages from members of the community.” El Dorado, a furniture retailer in southern Florida, has bought commercial wraps in that area and CaribeVision is also making the package available to national advertisers.

September