With an estimated net worth of $69 billion from interests including finance, media and telecommunications, Mexican mogul Carlos Slim Helú is believed to be the world’s richest man. He’s now expanding his media reach with Ora.TV, an Internet-based on-demand network to be led by former News Corp executive Jon Housman. Slim’s Latin American wireless provider America Movil is backing the venture, although financials have not been disclosed. In a return to broadcast, Larry King is also partnering with Slim as a co-founder of the network where he will interview leaders from the worlds of politics and entertainment in a somewhat similar format to his old CNN show. The network will be ad-supported with streaming available in the U.S., Latin America and elsewhere later this year, according to The New York Times. Bloomberg recently reported that Slim was eyeing a Netflix-like online service in Mexico for movies and TV shows, but Ora appears to be a different beast given its focus on original programming. It also remains unclear if Ora will be available in Mexico where America Movil faces a government ban from delivering traditional TV over its network. Below is the full press release:
New York, NY—March 12, 2012 — Global media industry leaders today announced the creation of Ora.TV, a new digital television venture funded by América Móvil, the leading Latin American wireless service provider that is controlled by Carlos Slim Helú. The announcement marks the return to television of broadcast news legend Larry King, who joins Mr. Helú as a cofounder of the network. Ora.TV will be led by Jon Housman, who until recently was the President of Digital Journalism for News Corporation.
Ora.TV will create high-quality video programming for digital distribution via a variety of platforms, such that it is seamlessly available on phones, laptops, tablets, connected televisions, and other devices. Unlike linear cable channels, from its inception Ora (which means “now” in Italian) will be an on-demand network, producing a wide range of stand-alone content that transcends traditional format distinctions. The company will produce shows that resemble traditional TV in terms of production quality and content but which will be available in a variety of formats, including short-form segments lasting as little as three minutes.
The group is already in talks with potential distribution and technology partners. In addition, Ora is in discussions with other on-air personalities to join King in creating a unique and compelling roster of talent and programming. Several shows are currently in development and will be announced in the coming months.
Carlos Slim Helú is considered one of the world’s foremost business leaders with interests in finance, media, telecommunications and other fields. He owns stakes in many companies, including The New York Times, Saks, and is the main investor in Telefonos de Mexico, América Móvil and Grupo Financiero Inbursa.
“Ora.TV represents a great opportunity,” Carlos Slim Helú said. “The business model is sound and the team brings the talent and industry understanding that will help Ora stand out in digital television, a category which is primed for exponential growth.”
Larry King is joining the network having concluded an illustrious 27-year career at CNN. At CNN, he established a reputation as the foremost interviewer of world leaders and the leading source for information on breaking news.
“I am thrilled to be working with Carlos and Jon to create Ora.TV, a bold new model for digital television,” King commented. “The backing of Carlos—given his stellar track record in business—combined with Jon’s track record of leadership and innovation, is a recipe for success.”
“With the exponential burst in video consumption via internet-connected devices, this is an incredible moment to be launching a digital network and studio,” according to Jon Housman, Ora.TV’s CEO. “Moreover, to create a new network with Carlos Slim and Larry King, arguably two of the most accomplished individuals in the worlds of business and broadcast journalism, is an unprecedented opportunity.”
Housman brings more than 15 years of experience in the digital media business to the position. Over the past seven years, he has held a variety of positions at News Corporation, across both its entertainment and news divisions, leading businesses, developing strategy, and directing investments. He was previously the publisher of the Wall Street Journal Europe before its acquisition by News Corporation.
“In addition to traditionally styled programs, we will produce shows in alternative formats and varying lengths so that viewers can find and get information and insights they really care about in ways designed to harness these new mobile and interactive platforms,” Housman added. “This approach will allow us to thoughtfully address topics and ideas that might not be as well suited to traditional TV, Additionally, with Ora, we will also be able to incorporate content, social interactions, and technologies in ways that are difficult to pull off with linear platforms.”
Housman also hailed the involvement of Larry King, a true TV pioneer.
“Larry King’s access to and insight into top newsmakers is simply unparalleled. His experience, his relationships, and his fan base – including millions of Twitter followers – are outstanding assets to help launch a new kind of digital network.”
Ora.TV will be based in New York City and will be launching programming later this year.