In an effort to reach out to bilingual and non-Spanish speaking Latino sports fans, Fox Sports en Español next week will begin offering operators an English-language secondary audio feed to complement its traditional Spanish-language feed.
Beginning Sept. 14, FSE — currently in 7.6 million homes — will offer operators sports content dubbed into English free of charge, said network executive vice president and general manager David Sternberg.
“The objective is to make the network more widely accessible to all Latino viewers, no matter what their language preference is,” he said. “We’re hopeful that by expanding the audience, we’ll also make it an attractive business proposition for our cable partners to the extent that they can build their Hispanic local ad-sales business and increase their penetration of that marketplace.”
70% of SCHEDULE
Sternberg said a minimum of 70% of the network’s programming will be offered in English, adding that the network does not hold English-language rights to some of its foreign-based events. “In those relatively few instances, the second audio program will have Spanish-language programming,” he said.
While many English-language networks offer a Spanish-language second audio feed (SAP), the reverse setup is rare: soccer channel-based GolTV is the only other Spanish-language network to offer an alternative-language feed.
But Sternberg said the continued growth of the Hispanic marketplace has yielded more and more English speaking and bilingual Latinos who want to view culturally-targeted sports programming in English. Indeed, a recent Horowitz & Associates study on the growing influence of the American Latino community, over two-thirds of Latinos speak some English at home. In addition, more than 84% of Latinos surveyed describe themselves as somewhat fluent in English, while 56% describe themselves as pretty or very fluent.
“What’s happening is a natural process of acculturation where second- and third-generation Hispanics are gradually becoming more English-dominant and prefer to consume media and English,” Sternberg said. “That’s not to take away from the viability of our core business which is providing Spanish-language sports content to Spanish-dominant viewers.”
Sternberg said the network is talking to major MSOs about picking up the English-language feed, which he said distributors could place on traditional sports tiers in an effort to drive penetration. FSE will initially concentrate its efforts in states that have seen recent significant Hispanic growth, including New Mexico, California, Texas, Florida and Colorado.
AFFILS ARE INTERESTED
“Our affiliate-sales force has been out in the field presenting this concept to distributors and they’ve been pretty receptive to it,” Sternberg said. “[Operators] understand that this broadens the audience for the network and gives them another way of attracting Latino subscribers, particularly bilingual or English-dominant households, which are more likely to subscribe to cable or have Internet access and be interested in subscribing to ancillary services beyond video.”
The ABC Television Network is also looking to reach Hispanic viewers by offering Spanish-language dubs of its full primetime lineup via the SAP feature and through closed-captioning in Spanish, according to network officials. The network, which previously only provided a Spanish-language dub for The George Lopez Show, will also provide Spanish-language dubs for several primetime original movies and specials.