Univision VOD loses its spice

Mexico's Televisa won't run content on service

MEXICO CITY — U.S. Spanish-language web Univision is set to bow its video-on-demand service in January, but Mexican conglom Televisa’s hit content won’t be on board.

The Mexican TV giant took the unusual step of sending out a press release clarifying that fact last week. Three years into litigation, Televisa wants to end its long-running content deal with Univision — and maintains that the pact does not cover VOD.

At last week’s Cable Show in New Orleans, Univision said the offering would feature sports, news, movies and entertainment from Univision and its subsidiaries Telefutura and Galavision.

“With purchasing power that is growing more than 50% faster than non-Hispanic and expected to reach more than $1 trillion by 2010, the time is right to provide Hispanic households with robust content offerings,” said Tonia O’Connor, Univision’s executive VP of distribution sales & marketing.

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No mention of Televisa was made in Univision’s VOD press release, though inquiries instantly sprang up, spurring the Mexican web into action.

Unfortunately for Univision, no Televisa means no access to its top-rated primetime telenovelas or any other Televisa programming including Mexican Soccer League matches.

In recent weeks, the two webs’ long-running lawsuit showed tiny signs of thawing with Televisa exec VP Alfonso de Angoitia telling analysts a judge had asked the companies to come to a settlement ahead of the July 1 court date.

Last week at the L.A. upfronts, Univision announced a 2008-09 dominated by Televisa content, indicating it has no intention of losing the content.

Meanwhile, Univision is coming off a strong performance in the May sweep, rising to No. 3 among all broadcasters — beating out CBS, NBC and CW — in adults 18-34.

Univision also continues to perform especially well in cities with high Hispanic populations. In May its stations ranked No. 1 in adults 18-49, for example, in Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and Phoenix — and No. 1 in adults 18-34 in both New York and San Francisco, as well.

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