“We want to create a place for people to go,” said Jennifer… (David Becker / Getty Images )
For eight years, NuvoTV has struggled for attention from audiences and advertisers. Now, the independent television channel can boast a new owner certain to draw a crowd: Jennifer Lopez.
The Glendale-based channel, which targets English-speaking Latinos, said Lopez is becoming a partner in the venture. In addition to helping shape the strategy, distribution and marketing, Lopez and her production company — Nuyorican Productions — plan to develop shows for the outlet, which is available in about 30 million homes.
"I get pitched a lot of things, and I became excited about this opportunity — what we could do with NuvoTV," Lopez said Tuesday. "I started thinking about what I watched when I was growing up in the Bronx, and I could really only think of Maria and Luis, the Latino couple on 'Sesame Street,' and the movie 'West Side Story.'
"There weren't many other Latinos."
Neither Lopez nor NuvoTV executives would divulge Lopez's ownership stake in the channel. Two weeks ago, NuvoTV announced a new round of financing from investors — including from new partners Veronis Suhler Stevenson in New York and Tennenbaum Capital Partners in Santa Monica — that brought its total investment commitment to more than $110 million.
This comes at a time when advertisers and media companies are putting a greater emphasis on reaching an increasingly important demographic: young and affluent Latinos who watch TV primarily in English.
Next year, ABC News and Spanish-language media company Univision Communications Inc. plan to unveil an English-language cable news network to reach young Latinos. And cable giant Comcast Corp. plans to help launch several new cable channels in the next few years, including El Rey, which is co-owned by film director Robert Rodriguez ("Spy Kids"), to target English-speaking Latinos.
For NuvoTV, Lopez will serve as an executive producer, with her longtime production partners, Simon Fields and Benny Medina, on several projects. The first will be a music special based on Lopez's current Dance Again World Tour.
The goal, Lopez said, was to make NuvoTV a destination for Latino viewers and a platform for Latino performers and producers who want exposure for their shows. "We want to create a place for people to go," Lopez said. "Sort of a BET and HBO mixed together — but Latino."
NuvoTV Chief Executive Michael Schwimmer said Lopez would contribute "a lot more than her name. She is a part-owner in the network and we share the same goals and priorities, delivering great entertainment to a community that has truly been underserved."
The channel launched in 2004 as SiTV, one of the first TV ventures to recognize the importance of reaching bilingual and English-speaking Latinos in English. But the channel has struggled for carriage by cable TV operators because it's not affiliated with a major network.
"These things take time, but we want to make great content, great entertainment," Lopez said. "We need to think about all those little girls in the Bronx who need to be inspired."