Spanish sites get hitched

Yahoo!, Telemundo partner in online venture

MIAMI — Yahoo! and Telemundo are merging their U.S. Spanish-language Internet sites into a joint business.

Yahoo! Telemundo will marry Yahoo! services with Telemundo content. New site, Telemundo.yahoo.com, eventually will replace Yahoo! en Espanol (Espanol.yahoo.com) and Telemundo.com. Visitors to either old site today will see a rechristened home page.

The two will merge staff, albeit remotely, since Yahoo! en Espanol will maintain its existing Miami office with at least 30 employees. Telemundo has about 20 people in its digital media department.

Employees from both sides will produce the site.

Neither company will make an equity investment in the other, but the two will share revenue, although they are not specifying the breakdown.

The online partnership is tapping Luis Romero, a former Univision.com sales exec, to lead ad sales. He will report to both Yahoo! and Telemundo.

Daily operations will be overseen by two executives. Jose Rivera Font, general manager, Yahoo! North Latin America, will oversee services and distribution online, while Peter Blacker, senior VP of digital media at Telemundo, is in charge of content creation and editorial management.

Rivera Font and Blacker will report to their respective bosses at Yahoo! and Telemundo, and both men will report to a governing board for the partnership.

Tapping into a larger base of users should help Telemundo promote its TV shows while also developing Web-only content.

Yahoo! has a unique user base of 11.5 million Hispanics across its services; the U.S. Yahoo! en Espanol service has just 1 million unique users.

Although content on the NBC U-owned Telemundo broadcast network is 100% in Spanish, the merged Web site will include content tailored to first-, second- and third-generation U.S. Hispanics through Spanish-language, bilingual and English-language content sections, the companies said.

Merger should bolster Telemundo’s efforts to compete online against Univision Communication’s Univision.com, which claims to be the most popular Web site among U.S. Spanish speakers.

Last year, Univision’s online revenues rose 45% to $26.3 million. For the first quarter of 2006, revs increased by 35% from a year earlier to $6.9 million, as the site attracted new ad clients including Qwest Communications, Lexus, Unilever Foods, Anheuser Busch and T-Mobile.

A Yahoo! spokeswoman said the company does not break out financial results for the U.S. Spanish-language operation.

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