Home Box Office will roll out HBO Latino -- a
Spanish-language multiplex channel that isn't just a dubbed version of the core
service -- this fall, officials said last week.
The multiplex will be different from HBO and independently
programmed, according to John Billock, president of HBO's U.S. network group. It will
feature Spanish-language films specifically acquired for the service; new and original
interstitial programming filmed around the country; live boxing commentary in Spanish; and
a mix of dubbed theatricals and originals from the main HBO service.
HBO Latino will be the latest addition to "HBO The
Works," the premium service's multiplex lineup, which now includes six networks.
Because it will have its own programming, HBO Latino is
totally different from HBO en Español, which is essentially just a Spanish-language HBO,
according to Billock. "This is not a dubbed version of HBO," he said. "It
will be independently scheduled and programmed."
HBO Latino and HBO en Español will coexist, he added.
HBO Latino fits into HBO's strategy of creating
multiplex services to appeal to different segments of its audience, according to Billock.
Latinos make up 11 percent of HBO's subscriber base, with HBO in 19 percent of all
U.S. Hispanic households. Billock pointed out that Latinos are a fast-growing demographic
HBO Latino will have original interstitial programming that
spotlights cultural issues and stories of interest to Latinos nationwide. A core group of
Spanish-speaking on-air personalities -- "video jocks," or hosts -- will
represent different Latino regions across the county.
The U.S. Hispanic population is diverse, so HBO Latino will
have those hosts and the sites they are located in reflect that diversity, Billock said.
For example, the network will do segments with Cuban on-air talent in Miami,
Mexican-American talent in Los Angeles and Caribbean hosts, most likely of Puerto Rican or
Dominican descent, in New York, according to Billock.
The new multiplex's lineup will include U.S. premieres
of Spanish-language films specifically acquired for the channel. As part of that
initiative, HBO next month will sponsor the 16th Chicago Latino Film Festival,
one of several film festivals the premium service will support in order to identify new
HBO Latino will also air HBO's World Championship
Boxing series live with on-camera commentary in Spanish.
HBO has targeted several markets for HBO Latino, such as
New York, Los Angeles, parts of Texas and Chicago. It will talk with cable operators in
those DMAs, as well as with DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., Billock said.