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Univision taps T-Mobile to create Hispanic wireless service

Univision Mobile will launch on May 19 in Walmart stores and dealer locations in the US and Puerto Rico.


Spanish-language entertainment giant Univision is getting into the wireless business -- courtesy of T-Mobile.

Univision and T-Mobile on Thursday announced Univision Mobile, a wireless service targeting the Hispanic market with specific plans and Univision content. Univision is hoping to extend its entertainment brand into the mobile world, while the move could potentially net T-Mobile a larger share of the market for Hispanic consumers even as the competition for new customers heats up.

Financial terms weren't disclosed. The service launches May 19.

Entertainment brands have attempted to get into the wireless business before -- ESPN and Disney famously tried to become wireless service providers before they both crashed and burned. But those brands struck a reseller, or mobile virtual network operator, agreement in which they would handle all of the work related to being a wireless provider.

Univision and T-Mobile are instead partnering together, which would allow Univision to focus on the promotion and brand while T-Mobile handles customer support, billing, and other logistical needs. Customers would get Univision ringtones and wallpapers, a sneak peak at Univision shows, as well as a Univision Mobile portal for access to news, sports, and entertainment, and access to its apps.

Univision's "exclusive" content will include quick access to Rodner Figueroa's "fashionómetro," showcasing the best and worst of Hispanic celebrities on the red carpet by one of Univision's fashion experts; or even deliver personalized horoscopes by Univision's clairvoyant Victor Florencio, also known as El niño prodigio.

Univision Mobile's plans aren't just a clone of T-Mobile's offerings. They specifically target Hispanic customers with families overseas, and all include 100 minutes to call a mobile or landline number from the US to Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. As with the typical T-Mobile plan, the Univision Mobile plans all include unlimited text messages from the US to select Latin American countries and more than 200 countries around the world.

The Univision Mobile packaging with the Samsung Galaxy S3. Univision

There is also the option to pay an additional $10 a month for unlimited calls to landlines and 1,000 mobile-to-mobile minutes to Mexico.

The plans start at $30 a month for just voice calls and text messages. A plan that includes 2.5 gigabytes of 3G data costs $45 a month, while one that includes 2.5GB of 4G data costs $55 a month.

T-Mobile isn't the only carrier that has attempted to cater to the Hispanic market. Verizon Wireless partnered with Jennifer Lopez to open Viva Mobil, a Hispanic-focused retail store that sold Verizon phones and services. Verizon had previously called the market a key strategic growth platform.

But T-Mobile believes it can do better with Univision.

"We've looked at all the offerings in the marketplace and we think others are getting it wrong," said Mike Sievert, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile.

Univision Mobile will launch in 1,000 Walmart stores and 3,000 dealer stores, with distribution expected to double by the end of June. Sievert said there might be an option to have Univision Mobile show up in T-Mobile's stores too.

"(Univision Mobile) will be on every platform available to us," said Rick Alessandri, executive vice president of Univision.

The Hispanic market represents the fastest growing demographic in the US, and tends to skew younger and more tech-savvy, Alessandri said.

"Obviously, building a product with them first in mind is what this has been about," he said.

Sievert said T-Mobile has a higher mix of Hispanic customers than the other national carriers.

While any T-Mobile phone would work on the service, the Univision Mobile packages will come with more affordable phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Light, Galaxy S III, and, as well the Alcatel Island and Evolve.