Univision growing homevid arm

Co. partners with Studio Latino for DVDs

Spanish-language media company Univision has created a homevid division and struck a marketing/distribution deal with Studio Latino, the Latino unit of indie DVD distrib Ventura Entertainment.

The new Univision Home Entertainment, based in L.A. under Univision Television Group president Michael D. Wortsman, will release content from the Univision Television Networks’ extensive Spanish-language movie library under the DVD label Unicine.

All Unicine titles will be first-time DVD releases for U.S. audiences. They will be available at major retailers including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Tower Records and Circuit City.

Joseph Acevedo and David Polo are directors of business development for Univision Home Entertainment.

“Univision’s stature among Spanish-speaking consumers elevates the entire Latino DVD category for the industry and will be a catalyst for even more growth in this genre,” said Ventura Entertainment exec VP-general manager Chris Lynch.

The first 10 Unicine titles available May 24 include “Secuestro” (Kidnapping) and “Escuadron de la muerte” (Squadron of Death).

Ventura says that Hispanic Americans now make up 14% of the U.S. population and that 34 million Hispanic Americans, or 84% of the U.S. Hispanic population, have a DVD player, representing $715 billion in annual buying power. However, only 1% of the 1 billion DVDs sold in the U.S. last year were in Spanish.

Other companies already in this market include L.A.-based Oxxo Pictures; Maverick Latino, an arm of South Florida-based Maverick Entertainment; Miami-based distrib and producer Venevision Intl.; and Mexican powerhouse Televisa, whose homevid division has partnered with Santa Monica-based Xenon Pictures for U.S. distribution.

In other news from Ventura, the company has reorganized its executive ranks to emphasize its expanding international operations. Ventura Entertainment Enterprises exec VP Craig Sussman adds the title of president of international. Jim Weatherson, who has been exec VP- general manager of Ventura Distribution, has been promoted to president and will add marketing to his responsibilities for the company’s sales and distribution.

(Mary Sutter in Miami contributed to this report.)