Jennifer Lopez, the actress-singer who put her cross-cultural appeal to use in movies such as “Selena” and “Maid in Manhattan,” is joining NuvoTV, the English-language cable network aimed at Latino viewers.
Lopez, 43, and her Nuyorican Productions will contribute programming, work on strategy and assist in marketing the eight- year-old channel, she said an interview. In exchange, she will receive a minority stake, according to an e-mailed statement that didn’t disclose other financial terms.
“I’m going to be a creative executive and part owner who will be very involved with every aspect of the network,” Lopez said. “Development, production, marketing, I’ll be involved on every side of it so we hit all the right points.”
With Lopez, Los Angeles-based NuvoTV gains a well-known personality to help position the network to stand out as bigger media companies, including Walt Disney Co. (DIS), Univision Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), begin targeting the same growing audience. Lopez’s involvement will extend to meeting with advertisers and pay-TV operators to expand distribution, Chief Executive Officer Michael Schwimmer said in an interview.
“Jennifer wants to be helpful, to grow the business,” Schwimmer said. “She is coming in as a business partner. To the extent she can be helpful growing distribution or advertising relationships, she will chip in where appropriate.”
There are more than 52 million Latinos in the U.S., and the group will represent the majority of the country’s population growth in the next five years, according to an April report by researcher Nielsen. Latinos’ buying power of $1 billion in 2010 will jump 50 percent to $1.5 billion by 2015.
NuvoTV said last month it raised $40 million from current investors Columbia Capital LLC and Rho Capital Partners Inc. and new investors Veronis Suhler Stevenson LLC and Tennenbaum Capital Partners LLC.
The money will be used for new shows and marketing, much of which will support Lopez’s efforts, Schwimmer said. She and her partner, Simon Fields, will serve as executive producers on NuvoTV projects.
“Our joint goal is to raise the bar and invest more in programming and marketing, and take this network to the next level,” Schwimmer said. “The financing took this relationship into account.”
NuvoTV is available in 30 million U.S. homes through pay-TV systems operated by Dish Network Corp. (DISH), AT&T Inc. (T), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC)
Lopez, who has sold more than 70 million records, according to her website, is receiving a “non-controlling stake” in NuvoTV, Schwimmer said. He declined to say whether she will join the company’s five-member board.
Other media companies are starting to offer programming in English for Latino viewers. Burbank, California-based Disney’s ABC News and Univision, based in New York, said in May they are starting a 24-hour news channel, while Philadelphia-based Comcast, largest U.S. cable operator, is creating the El Rey network with director Robert Rodriguez.
“Everybody is realizing this is way overdue,” Lopez said. “It’s time to put some energy into this.”
Lopez’s production company is making a pilot for ABC Family, “The Fosters,” about a lesbian couple raising biological and foster children. For NuvoTV, the company is working on two projects, including a musical special about her current concert tour with Enrique Iglesias.
There are plans for scripted series, reality shows and movies, she said. Some may feature Lopez, who ended a two-year stint as a judge of “American Idol,” the most-watched U.S. entertainment program, in July.
“If you took BET and HBO and kind of mixed them together and made them Latino, that is where I hope to bring us in the next couple years,” Lopez said.
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