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Voy TV Launches Online

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NEW YORK Voy TV is finally seeing the light of day—not as a cable network, as originally conceived, but a broadband television channel.

Launched today, the service, www.voytv.com, is showcasing 7,000 videos, consisting of acquired, original and user-generated content. And it will allow users to create video blogs.

The venture debuts almost a year after Voy launched its Voy Music Internet service, and the video component is integrated with that service's Web site under the new "umbrella" Voy Plaza.

The debut of the channel comes on the heels of yesterday's disclosure from Google that it has agreed to acquire YouTube, the video-sharing site, in an all-stock deal valued at $1.65 billion [Adweek Online, Oct. 9].

The service had sought distribution on cable and satellite platforms since 2003, when the Voy parent company was founded. The going was particularly rough because it was positioned as an English-language service seeking distribution on basic cable and satellite tiers, rather than the operators' Spanish-language tiers, which have much smaller subscriber bases.

Fernando Espuelas, founder and CEO of Voy, explained that the channel almost inked a large deal for cable distribution some time ago. "We got to the 11th hour of an 18-month negotiation process with one of the carriers. It was a very big deal. But we walked away because a light bulb went off in our minds, and we realized that there's an evolution of consumer habits driven by the penetration of broadband," he said. It's also much less expensive to launch an Internet channel, he noted.

The Voy Music service has grown to a total of 2.6 million unique users since its launch. According to Voy, newly released research from Synovate shows that there are more than 16 million Hispanic Internet users, and 77 percent have access to broadband.

Voy TV is entirely supported by advertisers such as Circuit City and Motorola.