Multicultural programmers Wednesday gave pay-TV distributors credit for trying to serve diverse audiences, but said the hurdles to obtaining carriage made it inevitable that those content providers will seek over-the-top avenues to reach more viewers.
Tom Mohler, CEO of Olympusat Holdings, which distributes some 67 channels, many of them Spanish-language HD outlets, said he thought there would be rising activity in the Hispanic-programming over-the-top arena. Hispanics in the U.S. are young (average age in the 24-27 range) and are heavy users of smartphones, he said, making them prime targets for mobile video products. Getting Spanish-language content on pay TV also means buying other programming before getting to the international tiers, which is a barrier, and operators have bandwidth constraints that OTT services don’t have.
Mohler and fellow panelists Alex Alonso, VP of marketing at mun2, and Timothy Boell, SVP of content distribution and marketing at Asia TV USA Ltd. (Zee TV Americas), complimented Michelle Webb, executive director of content strategy and acquisition at Verizon’s FiOS 1 Local Channels, for the way FiOS presents international programming. But the content providers in general said the pay-TV category only rates about a “C” grade in terms of meeting multicultural audiences’ desires for content serving their communities in their languages.
Webb said FiOS and other distributors first focused on adequately serving the large markets of African-American and Latinos. Now, through TV, mobile and digital methods, FiOS wants to reach other multicultural communities. “We are focusing our energy on how we can expand and offer more for those groups,” she said.
On a second panel at the same Multicultural TV breakfast event at the Cable Show, Jose E. Velez-Silva, senior director of multicultural marketing at Comcast Cable, said Comcast has moved beyond early offerings that tried to stockpile as much Spanish-language programming as possible all in one package. “The reality is all Hispanic households are not the same,” he said. Now Comcast is putting together packages tailored to diverse interests.
Programmers targeting younger demographics via music (Val Boreland, executive vice president of programming and production at Revolt TV) and via shows aimed at dominant-English-speaking Hispanics (Lynnette Ramirez, VP of programming at NUVOtv) said they are focused on reaching audiences on the go. “One of our goals is to make sure that we are on every device,” Boreland said.
Sandra Lee, CEO of ES Advertising, said her firm’s research showed Asian-Americans are generally unaware of the programming that is currently available to view on non-TV devices. She said distributors should try to get that message out.
The breakfast event was put on by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.