Disney-Univision said to be eying English news channel


Univision Communications is already preparing to launch a news-focused Spanish cable channel this year, Univision Noticias.  Now the Wall Street Journal reports that the US Spanish TV giant is in talks with Disney/ABC on jointly creating an English-language all-news cable channel aimed at US Hispanics.

After the WSJ posted its report a follow-up story by the Los Angeles Times confirmed the discussions, but added that no deal is imminent.

The interest in English programming by Univision reflects the changing demographics of the US Hispanic population. More and more American Hispanics speak English, rather than Spanish, as their first language. Also, new generations of Hispanic Americans tend to have more disposable income than their immigrant parents or grandparents, which makes them more attractive to marketers. Just a few days ago Univision began offering English closed captions for some of its primetime programming, with plans to expand that practice to lots more of the daily schedule.

An all-news channel by Disney/ABC and Univision would enter an already hotly competitive market, with News Corporation’s Fox News Channel, Time Warner’s CNN and Comcast/NBCUniversal’s MSNBC already well established.

News Corporation recently announced its intention to expand the other direction, language-wise, with plans to launch MundoFox. That will not be a news channel, though, but rather a Spanish-language entertainment channel taking aim at Univision’s main broadcast channel and NBCU’s Telemundo.

RBR-TVBR observation: The Hispanic market is hardly new to Disney. It produces lots of content in Spanish for distribution in the US and around the globe. Launching an all-news channel in any language is an expensive undertaking, but a Univision-ABC partnership would certainly have the resources – both financial and news gathering – to pull it off.