Exclusive: Televisa and Univision will launch a Spanish-language streaming platform in the first half

Televisa co-chief executive Alfonso de Angoitia leaves after attending an interview with Reuters, in Mexico City, Mexico January 28, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Romero

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MEXICO CITY, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Mexican broadcast powerhouse Grupo Televisa and U.S.-based Univision (UVN.UL) are preparing to launch what would be the world’s biggest Spanish-language streaming platform in the first half of 2022 after sealing a joint venture capital deal on Monday, the Televisa chief told Reuters.

The new company, TelevisaUnivision, will combine content from both broadcasters to target the Spanish-speaking global audience of nearly 600 million people.

An ad-based version of the streaming platform will roll out in the first half and a subscription product will launch in the second half, Televisa co-chief executive Alfonso de Angoitia said in an interview.

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The as-yet-unnamed streaming platform enters a crowded field of heavyweight competitors including Amazon.com Inc’s Prime, Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) Plus and Netflix Inc. , which announced last year that it would spend $300 million on original Mexican productions.

De Angoitia, who will be executive chairman of the board of TelevisaUnivision, insisted the platform could break away from the pack, pointing to Televisa’s huge content library and broadcast rights for sports.

“We’ll be a fierce competitor,” he said, adding that at least one new “high-quality” movie or series will drop on the subscription service every week for the first year.

Customers in Mexico and the United States will simultaneously have first access to the platform before it is rolled out to other Latin American countries and Spain.

A sort of turf war began after news of the TelevisaUnivision plan broke in April. Televisa ripped off executives from Netflix, Disney Plus and others. Competitors rushed to poach top stars, leading Televisa to make its talent deals more competitive and exclusive, De Angoitia said.

American singer and actress Selena Gomez, Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, Spanish author Maria Duenas and Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez are among the platform’s productions.

The new venture will generate enough free cash flow to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in more content, De Angoitia said.

The finalization of the TelevisaUnivision deal comes after a tumultuous week in the Mexican telecommunications sector. A much-anticipated vote by the country’s Federal Institute of Telecommunications left America Movil, the country’s largest telecommunications company, without a coveted license to enter the country’s pay-TV business, a prospect that had rattled rivals , including Televisa, the current industry leader.

“In the telecommunications sector, we have not yet seen effective competition…this is not the right time to grant this change to America Movil,” said De Angoitia, adding that the IFT “could do more” to regulate competition.

An entry into pay-TV from America Movil, already dominant in mobile and Internet services, would make it “increasingly difficult to compete”, De Angoitia said.

The TelevisaUnivision deal is partially funded by a $1 billion Series C preferred investment led by Latin American fund SoftBank (9984.T), with participation from ForgeLight, The Raine Group and Google (GOOGL.O), who also helped with technology and engineers.

Softbank announced last week the departure of its chief operating officer, Marcelo Claure, following a fallout on wages. Claure will retain her seat on Univision’s board of directors, De Angoitia said.

($1 = 20.8655 Mexican pesos)

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Reporting by Cassandra Garrison in Mexico City; Editing by Christian Plumb and Alistair Bell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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