Fulfilling a commitment that is part of its acquisition agreement for NBCUniversal, Comcast is expanding the carriage of eight Hispanic networks by a combined 14 million subscribers.
As such, Azteca America, Galavision, Hispanic Information & Telecommunications Network, LATV, mun2, Telefutura, Telemundo and Univision will all see their sub bases grow on Comcast systems. Some of the rollouts have begun, while others will occur on a staggered basis in the weeks ahead.
These announced launches are the latest steps from Comcast to increase the availability of minority-focused fare on its systems. Since April, it has announced plans to boost the reach of Mnet, the English-language Asian pop culture channel, by more than 2 million subscribers. Moreover, two African-American-aimed services, The Africa Channel and TV One, in which Comcast holds an equity position, will gain a combined 2.3 million subs through new system bows.
When Comcast acquired the controlling interest in NBCU from General Electric on Jan. 28, the company agreed to increase the distribution of at least three services networks that are American Latino-owned or -controlled or target the Latino community by at least 10 million digital-basic subscribers within six months of the deal close. With these launches, Comcast, which controls broadcaster Telemundo and cable cousin mun2 via NBCU, said it will surpass that goal by 40%.
Under another merger stipulation, Comcast also pledged to launch 10 new independent channels over the next eight years, including eight that are Hispanic- and African-American owned or operated. Sources familiar with the situation indicate there were approximately 100 applicants for the first three: a channel that is "American Latino operated and programmed in English" is slated to bow by July 28, 2012, while a pair of majority African-American-owned services will launch by Jan. 28, 2013, the second anniversary of the union.
That field has been winnowed considerably, according to the sources. A Comcast spokesman would only say the process is being reviewed.
The increased carriage for the aforementioned networks will come via rollouts in new cable systems and markets. To that end, HITN is being added to Comcast cable lineups in Boston, Atlanta, Nashville, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Miami, western New England, Michigan and Indiana. For its part, Azteca America will launch in New York and Philadelphia.
Comcast, which counts more than 23 million video customers across the nation, provides more than 60 Hispanic or Spanish-language networks on most of its major cable systems.
"We are pleased to be bringing more Hispanic programming to millions of consumers across the U.S.," said David Jensen, vice president of content acquisition for Comcast Cable, in a statement. "Comcast strives to deliver programming that brings the world to our customers, and I'm proud that we were able to go far beyond our commitment by delivering this great new programming."
Noted HITN president and CEO Jose Luis Rodriguez: "This partnership with Comcast is a step in our expansion strategy to meet the demand of the increasing Latino community. Our programming will now reach millions of new households, providing our viewers the tools they need to navigate life in the U.S."