Apple playing iTunes Latino

Pacts with Telemundo for TV fare

Apple's iTunes Store, the market leader in music downloads, has inaugurated iTunes Latino, a dedicated space devoted to Latin music, music videos, TV shows, audiobooks and podcasts.

The company has struck a deal with Spanish-language TV network Telemundo, which will provide Spanish-language programming as well as bilingual programs from its youth-oriented Latino youth network mun2. The first offerings include the telenovelas "Pasion de Gavilanes" and "El Cuerpo del Deseo," the reality show "Decisiones" and the mun2 reality program "The Immigration Special."

The iTunes Latino area divides the breadth of Latin music into such subgenre components as rock en Espanol, ballads and boleros, Latin pop, reggaeton and hip-hop, regional Mexican music, rock Latino and tropical. The site is offering exclusives, albums, EPs and tracks by such top acts as David Bisbal, Daddy Yankee, Aterciopelados, Marco Antonio Solis, Paulina Rubio, Mana and Cafe Tacuba as well as video exclusives from Juanes, Mach & Daddy and Luis Fonsi.

Such popular iTunes Music Store features as "Essentials" and celebrity playlists have been imported to iTunes Latino.

Pricing is in line with other iTunes downloads: 99 cents for a song and $1.99 for a TV show.

Apple vp of iTunes Eddy Cue said, "I have a Spanish background, so I understand the market, and I knew we could do more … and we knew the customers would want more."

Cue noted that the Latin market is vast and largely untapped by online entertainment merchants. Latinos account for 15% of the U.S. population, and online penetration among Latinos is 57%; 61% of those online have broadband capability. He also noted that Latinos in the 35-54 age demographic are highly active online shoppers.

Cue said that in a shrinking brick-and-mortar retail environment, Latinos are not being adequately served by such chains as Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart. "Where do you go in the physical space? How much Latin music do (the mass merchants) carry? If you missed last night's soap opera, you can't wait for the DVD," he said.

Apple chose to launch iTunes Latino on Wednesday, the day before the Latin Grammy Awards are presented in New York. "The two things lined up with each other by accident, but obviously we wanted to take advantage of that," Cue said.

Telemundo president Don Browne said: "We're thrilled to be iTunes' first Hispanic TV property. Partnerships like these are all about our viewers and following their needs. We can offer our original content to our audience through innovative and hugely popular platforms such as iTunes."