The Spanish-language Univision this summer is launching a digital network that will enable viewers to tap into its programming on computers, smartphones and tablets.
The new service is called the UVideos Digital Network, the company said Friday. It will have special content and social media links designed to encourage people to use handheld computers while they're watching television, called second-screen viewing.
The Univision broadcast network, by far the most popular among the Spanish-speaking audience in the United States, will premiere two new telenovelas next year. One is a comedy involving a macho man forced to dress as a woman occasionally to win the heart of the woman he loves. The other is a love story about a man who is unjustly accused and wants to clear his name and who falls in love with a veterinarian whose fiance was killed.
Telenovelas, prime-time soap operas that run five nights a week, are the bread and butter of Univision's programming. Much of it comes through its exclusive U.S. distribution deal with Televisa, the Mexican production company. Two-thirds of Univision's audience is of Mexican descent.
Televisa and Univision this fall will begin making the network's first Internet-only novela, Univision said. Mexican movie star Kate del Castillo, who has appeared on CBS's "CSI: Miami," also is making two Web novelas for Univision.
Largely because of telenovelas, 94 percent of Univision viewers watch the programming live, said Randy Falco, Univision Communications Inc.'s president and CEO. At English-speaking networks, DVR and video on demand usage has reduced live viewing to 85 percent and falling, the Nielsen ratings company says. Advertisers prefer live viewing because their commercials can't be skipped.
Besides the Univision network, Univision Communications owns the broadcast network Telefutura and the cable network Galavision and an expanding collection of Internet-only channels.
"If marketers want to tap into the growth that the Hispanic community offers," Falco said, "they have to come to us."