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Sports-Heavy Programming Seen as Big Lure for Hispanic Market

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NEW YORK ( -- XM Radio announced today that it will launch the first Spanish-language satellite radio channel, in partnership with soccer play-by-play announcer and the chairman of Futbol de Primera, Andres Cantor.
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The channel goes live in July and will also broadcast all sports from Latin America and Mexico, including boxing and baseball, along with the 2006 FIFA World Cup and real-time international sports reporting. XM already exclusively broadcasts MLB en Espanol as part of the $650 million, 11-year deal it signed last year with Major League Baseball.

Mr. Cantor, a legend in Hispanic sports media who is famous among soccer fans for his signature saying, "Go-o-o-a-l!" gives the channel an immediate identity and will provide guidance and direction for XM's Spanish-language sports programming. He is the head sports commentator for NBC Universal's Spanish-language TV network Telemundo and his Futbol de Primera syndicates Hispanic radio soccer programming.

Spanish-language sports media
The new channel is part of an explosion in Spanish-language sports media. At the TV upfront next month in New York, both Fox Sports en Espanol and year-old ESPN Deportes will do presentations for media executives and advertisers. ESPN Deportes will be selling more than airtime; it plans to show upfront attendees a sample issue of a Spanish-language ESPN Deportes magazine that ESPN will launch in August with Editorial Televisa, the largest Spanish-language publisher in the U.S. and a division of Mexico's Grupo Televisa.

Editorial Televisa already publishes the two main Spanish-language mens' titles in the U.S. Hispanic market, Maxim en Espanol and Men's Health en Espanol. The sports magazine's initial rate base will be 55,000. And Sports Illustrated, which has published occasional issues in Spanish before, will do three Spanish-language issues this year, each devoted to a different sport.

GM sponsorship
Like most of satellite radio's talk, news and sports channels, the new Spanish-language sports channel will feature paid sponsorships and advertisings; General Motors Corp. has signed on as the presenting sponsor for the Spanish language sports channel.

XM has a long-standing relationship with the automaker, which signed on early as an XM distributor and has driven 1 million of XM's subscriber sales.

With 3.8 million subscribers, XM is the larger satellite radio provider -- competitor Sirius has 1.33 million -- and hopes the Spanish-language sports channel will help it tap into a potentially large and loyal market of 35 million Hispanics living in the U.S.

Hard-to-find programming
While XM and Sirius both offer a half dozen Latin music, talk and news channels, the sports channel will offer programming that is hard to find in many U.S. markets. Satellite TV providers have already found success offering Hispanics content they can't get in their local markets, including Latin American channels such as Centroamerica TV that immigrants know from their home country.

"If it's a reasonable enough cost, Hispanics will make that part of their sacrifices and pay for [satellite TV packages]," Elena Marroquin, vice president and director of strategy at Tapestry, the Hispanic buying arm of Publicis Groupe's Starcom USA, recently told Advertising Age. "Satellite TV companies have done an excellent job getting those [Latin American stations] on air and growing their Hispanic customers."

XM hopes their model works as well.

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Laurel Wentz contributed to this report.


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