T-Mobile, Univision partner to launch Univision Mobile MVNO aimed at Hispanics

Spanish-language broadcaster and media company Univision is partnering T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) to launch its own branded MVNO, Univision Mobile, aimed at delivering a mobile experience tailored to the needs and desires of Hispanic consumers.

The service will start May 19 and will be sold at 1,800 Walmart stores in the U.S. and 6,000 independent dealers serving Hispanic communities throughout the country. Customers can either bring their compatible devices to the service and buy a SIM card or choose from a range of T-Mobile devices. The launch was first reported as a rumor by TMoNews.

The companies said the no-contract service will have three plans:

  • $30 per month for unlimited voice and text
  • $45 per month for unlimited, voice and 2.5 GB of data at 3G speeds before throttling down to 2G speeds
  • $55 per month for unlimited, voice and 2.5 GB of HSPA+ speeds before throttling

All of the plans include unlimited international texting from the U.S. to select Latin American countries and more than 200 countries and destinations  around the world. Additionally, they include 100 minutes per month to call mobile or landline numbers from the U.S. to Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica and Chile.

The plans also come with unique content, including Univision ringtones and wallpapers, sneak previews of new Univision shows and premieres and opportunities for behind-the-scenes VIP access to Univision events and television/radio personalities. Further, once the service is activated, users get access to a Univision Mobile "portal" that gives smartphone customers access to news, sports, and entertainment, as well as Univision apps, including UVideos and Uforia.

Gustavo Pena, T-Mobile's senior marketing manager for Univision Mobile, said through its market research the carrier had found that "the specific needs of Hispanic wireless consumers were not 100 percent met, and were not met in the most efficient and affordable way by other carriers and other brands."

Pena said one pain point is that more than half of all Hispanics in the U.S. called internationally in 2013, according to Nielsen, but most wireless carriers offer bolt-on international calling plans that are not included in the basic plan, or only include calls to landlines. That's why the Univision plan offers the 100 minutes per month in international calling, he said.  

Additionally, Pena said Hispanic consumers are more driven by price points than other demographics and are very loyal to brands. That's why T-Mobile partnered with Univision, because the two saw in each other well-known brands that Hispanics would trust.

Univision is the largest media company serving the more than 56 million Hispanics in the U.S., and its flagship Univision station reaches 96 percent of all Hispanic households, according to Ignacio Meyer, Univision's senior vice president of enterprise development. The company has been working with T-Mobile for two years to conduct market research and develop the service.

Meyer noted that, according to Nielsen, nearly three out of four Latinos own smartphones (72 percent), which is nearly 10 percentage points higher than average in the United States, and 49 percent of Latinos say they plan to replace or upgrade their smartphone within the next six months. He also said they are twice as likely as the average American to share content on social media.

Pena added that while Univision does not think the Hispanic market has radically different communication needs than the general population, he noted that Hispanics are growing in influence, and that companies need to "cater to them specifically and speak to them in a culturally relevant way" since they are, on average, younger, have higher brand loyalty and use more social media.

Pena said that T-Mobile worked closely with Walmart to decide where to sell Univision Mobile and the stores would be not only in areas with large Hispanic populations, but also where T-Mobile had strong network coverage and where there was a local Univision station with good coverage as well.

Univision joins a handful of other major companies in partnering with T-Mobile to offer wireless service. Walmart Family Mobile launched on T-Mobile's network in 2010, and Target launched its Brightspot service on T-Mobile's network in 2013.

This also is not the first time T-Mobile has tried to attract the Hispanic market in the U.S. Last October the carrier launched a multi-year partnership with Shakira, the Grammy-winning singer from South America, by hosting a free concert in New York City's Bryant Park.

Since then, T-Mobile has raised awareness for her primary charity, The Barefoot Foundation, which helps build schools for communities in Latin America. Shakira appeared in an exclusive behind-the-scene video taken during a recent commercial shoot, and has appeared in a Spanish-language commercial touting T-Mobile's family plans. Additionally, more than 2,500 T-Mobile stores feature original creative content and a Shakira retail presence with items such as a Shakira wall mural, video content, point-of-sale and window displays.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) last May also announced a plan to go after the Latino market, albeit in a much more indirect way. The company partnered with actress and singer Jennifer Lopez to create Viva Móvil, an authorized Verizon reseller. Verizon has no monetary involvement in Viva Móvil though; Lopez is the majority shareholder.

For more:
- see this release
- see this TMoNews article

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J.Lo, Verizon target Latino market with Viva Móvil-branded stores, online shopping
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