11 goes 24/7 in U.S.

DirecTV to air Mexican pubcaster Stateside

MEXICO CITY — Public broadcaster Canal Once (11) has inked a deal with satcaster DirecTV and distrib Satmex Maximo to transmit its programming to U.S. auds.

The 24/7 channel will be called Once Mexico in the States, where it will be available to DirecTV’s more than 12 million subs.

This is the 45-year-old pubcaster’s first foray outside Mexico.

Deal comes on heels of similar arrangement by Mexico’s other major pubcaster, Canal 22, which also will transmit on DirecTV. That arrangement does not include Satmex Maximo, so it will reach a far smaller audience, some 330,000 subscribers in nine states.

Like Canal 22, Canal Once is making a play for the sizable Spanish-speaking audience in the U.S. Canal Once says its Stateside programming will be largely the same as the one it transmits in Mexico.

Both pubcasters come into an increasingly crowded U.S.-based Spanish-lingo market. Mexican nets, in particular, have been pushing across the Rio Grande; TV Azteca has its own net, Azteca America, while Televisa is a minority owner of Univision and may attempt a takeover of the top-rated net.

While Azteca America, Univision and Telemundo have relied on the same programming that’s been commercially successful in Latin America — telenovela soap operas and local news programs — Canal Once and Canal 22 are more akin to PBS or Discovery.

Once will air cooking programs, including “La ruta del sabor” (Flavor Road), travel skeins including “Detras de la aventura” (Behind the Adventure) and political analysis shows such as “Primer plano” (Front Page) to U.S. auds.

The message is clear. As they have in Mexico, both nets are attempting to carve out a different corner of the market than more mainstream, commercial programmers.

Stephanie Campbell, senior VP of programming for DirecTV, said the platform was responding to the growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S. and the need to offer high-quality Spanish-language programming.

Sources close to Canal Once said the net is in talks with cabler Comcast to make its Once Mexico available to 21 million additional viewers.

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