Si TV Adds Backing

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Si TV distributors EchoStar Communications Corp. and Time Warner Inc. are also putting money behind the new English-language Latino-themed network, officials said last week.

EchoStar and Time Warner are part of a group of companies giving Si TV a funding infusion of more than $60 million. Other investors include: Syndicated Communications Ventures, Columbia Capital, Rho Ventures, DND Capital Partners, Llano Partners and company co-founder Barshop Venture.

Si TV launched in February and is now in more than 7 million homes, with rollouts on EchoStar’s Dish Network, Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles and Bright House Networks in Bakersfield, Calif.

'INNOVATIVE’ NET

A Si TV spokeswoman declined to say exactly which portion of the $60 million will come from Time Warner and EchoStar.

“Time Warner has been committed to the success of Si TV since its early days,” Rachel Lam, vice president and group managing director for Time Warner Investments, said in a statement. “Aiming to extend our support of Si TV, we have now made an equity investment in the network, which builds on our existing affiliation agreement through Time Warner Cable.

“We are excited about the growth prospects of this innovative network and have great confidence in Si TV’s diverse management team and its ability to better serve the Latino audience, an important market for us.”

Si TV investor DND Capital is headed by co-chairmen and CEOs Philippe Dauman and Tom Dooley, two former Viacom Inc. deputy chairmen.

Si TV is targeting second- and third-generation U.S. Latinos aged 18 to 34.

The channel has affiliation deals not only with Time Warner and EchoStar but also Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Grande Communications.

Si TV co-founder and president Jeff Valdez said the network will soon have additional launches, but he declined to disclose the markets or operators involved.

By year-end, he expects Si TV to be in 10 million homes.

Bright House in Bakersfield is offering Si TV on its Hispanic tier as well as its digital variety pack, which is the system’s equivalent of digital basic, general manager Joe Schoenstein said.

BAKERSFIELD FIT

“Si targets the Latino audience, and the Bakersfield area is 38% Hispanic, so we felt it was a good fit for our market,” he said. “Many of the Hispanic households in our area are multigenerational, and have some family members who speak only Spanish, and then the younger family members generally speak English. We want to reach the whole family. That’s why it’s on both tiers.”

Si TV is now available to 30,000 homes in that 90,000-subscriber system.

“Everybody is looking at it and seeing the relevance of the programming,” Valdez said.

More than 45% of Si TV’s schedule is original. Si TV, which started out as a production company and whose shows have included Nickelodeon’s The Brothers Garcia, just wrapped up taping the reality show Urban Jungle.

The series, which debuts on Si TV later this month, plops youths from areas like Arkansas to live with families in the Los Angeles barrio.

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