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Includes Spanish-Language Video-on-Demand Service

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NEW YORK ( -- Discovery Communications, which already operates the Spanish-language cable channel Discovery en Espanol, is launching two more Hispanic cable channels and combining all three in the new entity, U.S. Hispanic Networks, according to the company.
Discovery's new U.S. Hispanic Networks will also include a Spanish-language video-on-demand service.

VOD service
The two new Spanish channels are Discovery Kids en Español and Discovery Travel & Living. In addition, the launches includes a video-on-demand component, Discovery on Demand en Español.

Luis Silberwasser, a Colombia native who has been at Discovery Networks International for the past seven years, has been named senior vice president and general manager for U.S. Hispanic Networks.

The two new cable channels will launch June 17 and be distributed by Discovery's U.S. affiliate sales and marketing team.

Latin American channels
“There are a lot of Latin American channels that have had success on satellite -- de Colombia or Centroamérica TV -- channels that immigrants know from their home country,” said Elena Marroquin, vice president and director of strategy for Tapestry, the multicultural arm of Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest. “The next step will be programming tailored to the Hispanic person living here.”

Hispanic TV, which accounts for about two-thirds of the U.S. Latin media market, is projected to grow 9% in 2005, mostly driven by new viewers, advertisers and programming options. Currently, Nielsen Media Research measures more than 35 Spanish-language cable or broadcast networks.

Low digital penetration
But while Discovery’s announcement is the latest in a series of digital Hispanic TV network launches, digital penetration in Hispanic households remains meager at best. According to Tapestry, digital cable is available in about 25% of total U.S. homes and 16% of U.S. Hispanic homes. Launching new digital cable channels geared toward Hispanic audiences is considered an investment in the future; by 2010, it’s predicted that all cable access in the U.S. will be digital.

Many of the new digital cable offerings come as extensions of mainstream cable groups, including Disney’s ESPN/ABC Sports, Scripps Networks, NBC Universal and Time Warner’s CNN. Does Ms. Marroquin worry that too many digital channels will create too segmented a market?

More targeted
“Not at all,” she said. “This is us hoping to be more targeted. Forget about broad reach -- I want to take a media plan and say ‘This media plan for a theme park destination is very different the one we do for a hair-care product.’”

And in the meantime, some basic cable channels are finding success with programming that appeals to both mainstream and Hispanic audiences. Viacom’s Nickelodeon has attracted a multicultural audience with its popular Dora the Explorer and will sell during this year’s upfront a new series, Go Diego Go!, starring Dora’s 8-year-old rough and tumble cousin Diego.

A recent off-channel Dora traveling promotion, in which La Casa de Dora visited 10 U.S. malls with high numbers of Hispanic shoppers, attracted blue-chip marketers such as Dodge, General Mills and Procter & Gamble.


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