Mexico’s Grupo Multimedios Takes U.S. Plunge

Starting Feb. 19, an estimated 6 million residents of Mexican origin living in Texas will be able to attend live broadcasts of several Spanish-language TV shows in cities such as Harlingen, Laredo, Austin, El Paso and San Antonio.

The promotional tour, staged by Monterrey, Mexico-based Grupo Multimedios, will include live broadcasts of Gruperísimo, a Mexican regional music series, and general entertainment shows Vivalavi and Acábatelo.

The company is a relatively new entrant in the marketplace, and after decades of steady ratings and advertising growth in Mexico, is finally setting its sights on this side of the border by partnering with the nation’s largest cable operators. Not unlike other Mexico-based television programmers, Grupo Multimedios is zeroing in on viewers of Mexican origin, who make up the large majority of the U.S. Hispanic population.

“Over 65% of Hispanics in the U.S. are of Mexican origin; and these are Mexicans who watch a lot of television,” said Guillermo Franco, general manager of the company’s television division Multimedios Television.

The privately held media conglomerate kicked off its U.S. incursion in the fall of 2008, when it rolled out two networks — general entertainment Multimedios and music oriented TeleRitmo — on Comcast in Houston. In December, Multimedios launched on over 15 Time Warner Cable systems in Texas, including San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, El Paso and Corpus Christi. The Group said it is in talks with Comcast to enter Chicago, the nation’s sixth largest Hispanic market. A Comcast executive in Chicago was not available for comment at deadline.

Despite a gloomy outlook for the TV advertising market, Grupo Multimedios’ expansion plans are so ambitious that its U.S. representatives are bracing for a busy 2009: “We hope to secure distribution in the top five cable systems in the country,” said Gustavo Mena, a former distribution executive at CBS Cable and Telemundo/NBC who is leading Multimedios’ distribution effort from the company’s offices in Florida.

Grupo Multimedios’ foray into the U.S., at least for now, is focused solely on television and it calls for leveraging its three main networks: family oriented general entertainment outlet Multimedios Television; Mexican regional music TeleRitmo; and the recently launched Milenio Televisión, a 24/7 all Spanish-language news network, which premiered October 2008 in Mexico.

Laura Martínez -- Multichannel News

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