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Disney Expands TV Ties to Indian, Hispanic Audiences

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 10, 2012 04:01 PM

Big-time press conferences across the globe may need to make room for two more microphones soon. Disney is reportedly in talks to launch a 24-hour Spanish-language all-news channel later this spring with Univision, in a bid to create a cable news channel for English-speaking Latinos.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Spanish TV giant and the Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC and a host of other cable networks including ESPN, are developing a 24-hour, all-news, English-language channel. Univision “could use the channel to reach more acculturated viewers that advertisers prefer: Latinos who predominately speak English,” the Times reports.

The move would bolster Disney's ABC News division, which has “struggled to be more competitive and has shed hundreds of staff members from its ABC News division because the network produces only a few newscasts.” It would also give a direct line to America's booming Latino population, with roughly 50 million Americans ticking the Hispanic or Latino census box in 2010, a 43% jump up from the 2000 Census. 

Disney is also looking for multicultural growth outside the U.S. Residents of India, prepare to encounter Aladdin at 3 a.m. on your TV.

Disney announced that it “will acquire, through a subsidiary, a controlling interest in UTV,” one of India’s biggest media and entertainment companies.

The New York Times estimates that Disney did the deal for about $450 million and it allows the company “to leapfrog into India, one of the world’s most prized growth markets but one where Disney has so far had mixed success.” Three Disney-owned channels currently operate in India — Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Hungama — and the company has a large merchandising business there as well, the Times reports, but James A. Rasulo, Disney’s CFO, claimed last September that the company’s brand awareness is “fairly low” there.

UTV has six television channels and produces films and TV shows. The Times notes, though, that UTV’s “substantial mobile gaming division, Indiagames,” may have been the most important part of the equation. The hope is to sell content on mobile, a marketplace that is expanding by a million phones a month in India.

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