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Se; TV Pitches Hi-Def VOD

8/22/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

After going all-HD last year with its original productions, Sí TV is now seeking additional carriage for the first Hispanic-targeted HD VOD offering.

In late July, Verizon Communications became the first operator to launch the package. In early August, it debuted on Time Warner Cable. The VOD offering includes HD content from Sí TV’s originally produced Model Latina and Jammin series.

“There isn’t really any HD programming for the Hispanic audience and we felt it was important to deliver HD content to them,” said Sí TV CEO Michael Schwimmer. “We were the first to deliver original programming in English for the Hispanic audience and we felt it was important to be the first to deliver high-def programming.”

While operators have consistently expressed an interest in getting HD content for ethnic audiences, little is currently available, making Sí TV’s effort particularly notable.

In the Hispanic market, one reason for the lack of HD programming is because the overwhelming majority of content is produced in Spanish in standard definition and imported from abroad, often from Mexico, to the U.S., Schwimmer explained.

Schwimmer added that there are a number of misconceptions about Hispanic’s media usage and their “economic wherewithal to enjoy HD programming. In the acculturated community, which is about 60% of the Hispanic market, the household incomes are higher than Spanish dominant homes. They are reasonably affluent and have a great number of HDTVs. The disappointing thing is that this audience is so underserved with HD content.”

To tap into that market, Sí TV began upgrading their facilities and production operations last year.

Within the next year, Schwimmer hopes they will begin offering an HD feed of the channel. But for the moment, they are concentrating on gaining additional distribution of their HD VOD offering.

While interest has been strong and Schwimmer expects they will be announcing additional carriage deals relatively soon, he said operators are still not paying enough attention Hispanic-targeted programming in HD and English language fare for the acculturated Hispanic community.

“As HD becomes a sought-after commodity, we get caught up in that because operators are asking everyone for HD content,” he said. “I would love to say that cable operators have a solid understanding of the consumer buying and media habits of the acculturated Latino audience, but some are still more knowledgeable than others.”

September