LATV Heads East

Post-Newsweek stations look beyond Latin audience with digital launch
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LATV, the hip Hispanic digital entertainment network based in Los Angeles, will expand this month to four Post-Newsweek stations in the Hispanic-rich markets of Houston, San Antonio, Miami and Orlando, Fla.

In addition, LATV has worked out carriage deals with the following stations: KSEE Fresno-Visalia, Calif.; KWBA Tucson, Ariz.; KLAS Las Vegas, and KWES Midland Odessa and KFDA Amarillo, Texas, representing several station groups.

While the initial programming lineup will be a straight feed

from LATV's Los Angeles base, the Post-Newsweek stations are hard at work adding local elements to the mix. "We're extending our reach into areas we're not in in a sizeable way," says Post-Newsweek President Alan Frank. "And we'll be offering a strong local presence in these markets."

LATV offers 24/7 music videos and other entertainment fare to a young second- and third-generation Hispanic audience. Unlike other Latin-themed networks, LATV broadcasts mostly in English and plays videos by both Hispanic and American bands. President Daniel Crowe has vowed to reach 20 million homes by 2009 (B&C, 3/5).

Earlier this year, Post-Newsweek announced that KSAT San Antonio, WPLG Miami, WKMG Orlando, Fla.; and KPRC Houston will air LATV. (Post-Newsweek's remaining stations in Detroit and Jacksonville, Fla., have no current plans to carry the channel). The pact was applauded by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who has pushed for a stronger minority presence in the digital spectrum—even proposing that stations lease their multicast channels to more-diverse outlets, such as minorities and women.

The strategy is hyper-local. Post-Newsweek station managers hint at incorporating what one calls "the voices of people who live in their cities" into the mix. For starters, the stations are branding the multicasts with their home market, such as "LATV Miami" (the "LA" in LATV refers not just to the channel's home but to "Latino Alternative"). They're shooting promos in their respective cities, with area hipsters sharing their thoughts on the new channel. Down the road a bit, the station managers expect to produce their own programs, likely in prime access, some of which could air in other markets (such as a Houston concert series showing in Miami).

"It's a great fit for this market," says KPRC VP/General Manager Larry Blackerby. "Everyone's trying to figure out how to use the digital space, and this seems like a smart use for the channel."

Plans are also afoot to imprint the station brands on the Web. Managers are reluctant to share many specifics about their online strategies for LATV, saying they're still in the research phase, but the YouTube and MySpace models seem to be major influences. Station execs speak of tapping their market's Web-savvy young viewership for content, such as students' short films or humorous clips, or videos from local bands. And bands may have their own Web pages collected on an LATV microsite à la MySpace.

"Additive" business

Station execs believe the new digital channels will tap into heretofore untouched ad dollars that might otherwise go to competitors like mun2. Frank describes the agreement with LATV as a "typical network-affiliate relationship" in which both LATV and the station sell spots. Managers see the new network as "additive" to their core business, reaching viewers (and advertisers) that perhaps the primary channel isn't reaching. They also believe LATV's hip content will connect with viewers who don't speak a word of Spanish. Says Frank, "We think the content will appeal to viewers of all races."

With U.S.-based Hispanics wielding nearly a trillion dollars in buying power, the LATV demo is hardly niche; the network counts several mainstream marketers among its advertisers.

"I would expect national marketers, such as Verizon and [Procter & Gamble], to view this as a good ad spend, depending, of course, on ratings," says Scott Schroeder, CEO of Cohorts, a consumer-info firm that tracks the Hispanic market. "We see more and more recognition by national marketers that reaching the Hispanic market bilingually and from a bicultural perspective works."

E-mail comments to michael.malone@reedbusiness.com

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