News Corp. in partnership for US Hispanic network


News Corporation has teamed up with RCN Television Group (RCN), headquartered in Colombia, to launch a new Spanish-language television network in the United States. The new broadcast network of the joint venture of News Corp.’s Fox International Channels and RCN will be called MundoFox.

The announcement got Wall Street traderes excited about Hispanic broadcasting stocks. Both Spanish Broadcasting System and Entravision Communications were up double-digits on Monday to lead a general advance by broadcasting stocks.

Scheduled to launch during the Fall season of 2012 in Hispanic homes nationwide, the joint announcement said MundoFox “will aim to bring a similar sensibility as the Fox Network to Latino audiences, with exciting entertainment, best-in-class programming content and differentiation from the limited options currently available to viewers.”

 “Our partnership with RCN is a key step in the launch of MundoFox,” said Hernan Lopez, President & CEO of Fox International Channels. “There is an increasing demand for quality Spanish-language content in the US from both viewers and advertisers. FOX saw similar dynamics in play 25 years ago when it launched the Fox network, and it would be a missed opportunity not to provide an alternative for the 50+ million Latino viewers who currently have limited options in Spanish-language broadcast television. Our partnership with RCN will help us do this and we aim do it in a big way.”
“RCN has provided the main Hispanic networks in the US with much of their prime-time content for over two decades. We now plan to maximize our capabilities and bring an increasing variety of fresh and innovative productions directly to Spanish-speaking viewers. I am certain that FOX is the best partner to make this a successful network,” said Gabriel Reyes, CEO of RCN.

Fox International Channels operates 350 channels in 35 countries. In fact, it already operates three Spanish-language TV channels in the US: Fox Deportes, Utilisima and NatGeo Mundo. But those are specialty cable channels, while MundoFox will target the broad span of the US Hispanic audience via broadcast TV stations, competing head-to-head with industry giant Univision and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo. The new partnership also means that less RCN programming will be available to those existing US Spanish networks going forward.

MundoFox says its content will come from numerous sources, including:

1. RCN Television S.A. – the top broadcaster in Colombia. Past successes from this creative force have been the original “Ugly Betty,” called “Betty La Fea”, the only Spanish-Language series to have inspired a mainstream U.S. network drama; and “El Capo”, an action-packed prime time daily series that has broken ratings records in many countries, including the US.

2. Fox International Channels – over the last several years, Fox has produced high-quality weekly dramas for prime time that combine US-style, character-driven story-telling and visuals with Latino sensibility. Additionally, it has produced gripping factual series and a wide array of lifestyle shows.

3. Fox Deportes – the #1 sports brand for the U.S. Hispanic market, with exclusive U.S. Spanish-language rights to the UFC, as well as various soccer tournaments, including Copa Santander Libertadores, Copa Bridgestone Sudamericana, and European tournaments. Some of these events will be broadcast on MundoFox.

4. Shine Group – one of the leading producers of unscripted and scripted programming worldwide (including hit formats “The Biggest Loser”, “MasterChef” and “One Born Every Minute” and successful international dramas including “Merlin” and “The Hour”), will be producing their first original Spanish language content for MundoFox.

5. NTN24 – RCN’s international, 24-hour channel that offers Spanish-language news, analysis, opinion, sports and entertainment news programs from a uniquely Latin point of view. NTN24 also produces online, English language content with an emphasis on news from the Americas.

6. Third-party Suppliers – additionally, MundoFox will license and/or commission original programs and movies from a variety of third party producers, both from the English-language world as well as Spanish.

Although distribution is currently being established, MundoFox said it has plans to be carried on stations covering 75% of US households.

RBR-TVBR observation: Those who have been in this business long enough to remember when Fox was little more than a wannabe challenger to the “Big Three” know that Univision and Telemundo should not ignore this upstart. But for the immediate future, it probably poses a greater threat to smaller players such as Azteca America, EstrellaTV and Univision’s young-skewing sister TeleFutura.