Cable Firms Exploit Multicultural Edges


Los Angeles — Cable operators are embracing
multicultural-TV marketing opportunities
and getting smarter about using
localism and multi-service bundling as
a hedge against satellite-TV providers that
have more overall ethnic programming.

“Are we there yet? Absolutely not, we’ve
got a long way to go,” Natalie Rouse, director
of multicultural marketing at Comcast, said
during a breakfast panel session on multicultural
TV last week. “But we’re getting
there … We’ve got a focus today.”

Giving customers a full experience in
their languages — when they call in for help
or when an installer comes to their homes
— is still a work in progress, operators concede,
but they recognize to need to staff up,
Maureen Lane, a programming executive in
Time Warner Cable’s West region, said. TWC
uses a translator service for inbound callers,
she said, for example in Chinese, “but we are
taking that to the next level so we have people
on staff that can do that.”

“I think that the focus recently on the
bilingual household was a key sea change,”
Phil Polk, director of segment marketing at
Cox Communications, said of Spanish programming
tiers such as El Mix on Cox and
El Paquetazo on Time Warner Cable. Such
offerings present opportunities to market
and service households with different
generations speaking different languages.
“That gets us to table stakes,” he said, or parity
with DirecTV and Dish Network, which
have been targeting multiculturals longer
and have more exclusive programming.

The next steps — to try to “race ahead”
— are to add focused high-speed Internet
and phone services that bring in customers
and keep them, as they do with the general
“I think the bundle definitely helps levelset
for us,” Polk said.

“I think the next steps
we take are really about differentiation —
things we can do as a multi-service provider
that the DBS guys can’t do.”

Operators at last Wednesday’s panel session,
which was organized by Multichannel
and Broadcasting & Cable, gave credit
to programming and local partners for helping
understand how to market to Hispanics
and Asians, for example. Lane said marketing
firm Sprout helped TWC create some
local on-demand programming in Spanish
shot locally in L.A.