DirecTV Gets an Oscar for Para Todos

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DirecTV Inc. isn't pulling punches when it comes to marketing its new Spanish-language service.

The company last week said it signed boxing star Oscar De La Hoya as spokesman for its DirecTV Para Todos service.

"As a sports figure, Oscar is an A'talent," vice president of DirecTV Para Todos and international services Yolanda Macias said. De La Hoya appeals to both English- and Spanish-language-dominant members of Hispanic households, and is liked by both men and women, she said.

De La Hoya's one-year deal gives the direct-broadcast satellite provider an option for an additional year. Macias said she hopes it extends for many years to come.

The timing of DirecTV's promotional deal couldn't be better. De La Hoya announced last week that his next bout would be held June 17 in Los Angeles against Shane Mosley. Later this summer, De La Hoya is expected to release his first music CD.

"What's interesting about the album is it is bilingual," just as DirecTV Para Todos includes both Spanish- and English-language programming, Macias said.

"Although it's one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the country, the Latino community is often overlooked when it comes to customized entertainment," De La Hoya said in a press release. "The DirecTV Para Todos service solves this problem with programming customized to the tastes of bilingual households."

De La Hoya is expected to make his first appearance for DirecTV Para Todos on an on-air barker channel May 1. Print ads featuring his likeness will follow sometime the same month.

The first video and photos were shot April 1 in Miami, Macias said, shortly after DirecTV finished negotiations with the boxer and his management.

"Our window for not having him completely entrenched in his training repertoire [for the June 17 fight] was very small," Macias said.

In addition to print, radio and television ads, De La Hoya will grace product brochures, in-store displays, direct-mail pieces and other promotional materials.

Before he signed the promotional deal with DirecTV Para Todos, De La Hoya was a DirecTV subscriber. The company will upgrade his service to DirecTV Para Todos, which requires hardware that sees multiple orbital locations. It will also install a DirecTV Para Todos system for De La Hoya's father, Macias said.

As part of his agreement, De La Hoya will make a limited number of promotional appearances for DirecTV Para Todos. The company has not decided whether to use the boxing superstar for trade or consumer events.

The agreement also allows De La Hoya to produce an exclusive DirecTV event later this year. Macias said talks for such a program are still at the concept stage, but could include employing De La Hoya as a commentator on a sports show. The event would be produced in Spanish and exclusive to DirecTV Para Todos subscribers.

The service already offers free Mexican boxing matches to its Para Todos subscribers once a month.

"Boxing is a very good sport for our market across the board, right up there with soccer," Macias said.

Because he's of Mexican descent, De La Hoya holds his greatest appeal in western U.S. markets such as Los Angeles, she added.

DirecTV Para Todos launched at retail last fall in several cities, and had expanded to 16 markets across the country when the service started advertising the product nationally early last month.

Although Macias declined to disclose subscriber numbers for the service, she said DirecTV Para Todos is on target for its goal of 100,000 homes by year's end. She said large consumer-electronics chains such as Circuit City are doing well with the product, as are new DirecTV distributors that focus on the Hispanic market.

National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative affiliates are allowed to sell DirecTV Para Todos hardware, but not the bundled programming packages. Consumers within NRTC territories would need to call DirecTV directly to buy anàla carte Spanish-language service, Opcion Espanol, for $14.99.

Bundled English and Spanish DirecTV Para Todos packages sold outside NRTC territories sell for $19.99 and $31.99, depending on the number of channels. Any DirecTV subscriber with compatible hardware can also purchase theàla carte Spanish package, although the company does not actively market it, Macias said.

In addition to De La Hoya, DirecTV Para Todos has enlisted young Mexican soap star Kate DelCastillo as an on-air host, and Venezuelan singer Jose Luis Rodriguez-known to his fans as el Puma-as a spokesman. The company will seek promotional deals with other Hispanic celebrities as needed to reach other target customers, Macias said, although the company is not currently in negotiations with anyone else.

"We want to appeal to every member of the household," Macias said.

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