The deal represents a milestone for Univision, the fifth-largest television network in the U.S., whose popular programming dominates the Spanish-language market.
Starting later this year, Univision said, it will make some of its prime-time shows available on the free, ad-supported Hulu.com site a day after an episode's initial airing. A more extensive collection of the current season's shows and past series can be found on Hulu Plus, the subscription service that charges $7.99 a month.
"The deal is significant, not just for Univision and Hulu, but for individual [viewers] as well," said Tonia O'Connor, Univision Communications' president of distribution and sales. "This is the first time we are making this content available online."
Univision did not identify which of its shows it planned to offer for free online viewing, and which would require a paid subscription. Its partership with Mexico City-based television giant Grupo Televisa enables Univision to draw from a trove of low-cost Televisa-produced telenovelas, which fuel its prime-time ratings.
Last week, Univision accounted for the top 10 programs among Latino viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.
Andy Forssell, Hulu's senior vice president of content acquisition, said the partnership with Univision would enable the online video service to reach a population of 50 million Latino people in the United States -- a group advertisers are eager to reach.
"It's young, it's active, it's upwardly mobile and it's hard to get to," Forssell said. "It's exactly the audience you'd expect to be online in force, but they haven't been. There has not been any significant amount of long-form Spanish-language content online."
Forssell said the Univision deal will break down the barriers to online viewing of these shows.
Univision tapped into demand for online Spanish-language content when it streamed World Cup soccer matches in June 2010. When it allowed viewers to watch full episodes of one of its novelas, "Eva Luna," the network discovered the online offering fueled television viewing. The show's finale in April drew 9.5 million viewers, making it the highest-rated domestically produced novela in history.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo: A scene from the Univision program, "Una Familia Con Suerte" -- a Fortunate Family. Credit: Univision.