Televisa eyes U.S. growth with Lionsgate co-prod'ns

Goal to reach more English speakers

Mexican media giant Grupo Televisa and Lionsgate plan to co-produce English-language films and television series for the U.S. market.

Televisa CEO Emilio Azcarraga said in his keynote speech Tuesday at MIPCOM that working with Lionsgate will allow the Mexican powerhouse to extend its market in the U.S. beyond Spanish speakers.

"Televisa content accounts for 75% of the Spanish-language Hispanic market in the U.S., but once the younger generation moves from Spanish to English language, we lose them," Azcarraga said. "We want to hold onto the Hispanic audience as it moves as well as reaching out to the English-language audience."

Azcarraga didn't provide details of the Lionsgate deal, but it is believed to include an English-language remake of Televisa's hugely popular dance competition show "Dancing for the Wedding of My Dreams" and an English take on the Mexican sci-fi show "13 Miedos."

The agreement also will see Lionsgate release as many as six Spanish-language movies to be co-produced by Televisa, the Los Angeles Times reported. Lionsgate also will take U.S. distribution rights to Televisa's back catalog of about 400 Spanish-language feature films.

But the agreement with Lionsgate could put Televisa on a collision course with its current U.S. partner Univision. The leading Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S., Univision relies on Televisa for the bulk of its programming. Univision could argue that its licensing agreements with Televisa give it exclusive rights in the U.S. for all Spanish- language programs, even those remade into English.

Televisa and Univision already are at loggerheads, with the Mexican group suing Univision in an attempt to terminate its long-term programming arrangement with the channel.