New York -- ESPN's Hispanic audience has grown 39% in the past four years, and with the U.S. Hispanic population boom, it's only bound to get stronger.
That's what Traug Keller, ESPN's senior vice president of production and business divisions, told the audience in a keynote discussion moderated by ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike In the Morning co-host Mike Greenberg at B&C/Multichannel Channel News's ninth annual Hispanic TV Summit here Tuesday.
Keller said the latest census figures indicate that over the last 10 years, the U.S. Hispanic population has grown by 56%, making it the fastest growing demo in the country. Over the next 40 years, that number is projected to grow 167%. Keller said that in 30 years, one of every three U.S. sports fans will be Hispanic.
Keller explained that ESPN uses the same multiplatform techniques to appeal to Hispanic sports fans as it used to reach American sports fans.
"We want to get inside the mindset, find the likes, dislikes, passions, the things that drive him," Keller said. "Nobody spends more time with the American male than we do, including their wives and children."
In about one-third of the households, the U.S. Hispanic male is the primary shopper. In fact, according to Keller, the Hispanic fan "has greater reception to advertising then [the] non-Hispanic sports fan."
Keller broke down Hispanic fans into three separate groups: English-dominant, U.S.-born; bicultural, U.S.-born; and Spanish-dominant, non-U.S.-born. He said the English-dominant fan "has the highest relationship with ESPN," but that the bicultural fan represents "the greatest opportunity" because that demographic uses both ESPN and ESPN Deportes platforms.
ESPN's next move, Keller said, is to bridge the gap between the Hispanic fan and the non-Hispanic fan. "[It's] not just [about] ESPN Deportes, [it's also about] ESPN," he said, adding that the worldwide leader wanted to move past relying solely on soccer and boxing (two of the most popular sports among Hispanic fans), especially when it comes to football.
ESPN's Monday Night Football audience has more than doubled in the past year-and-a-half, Keller said. The games are broadcast on both ESPN and ESPN Deportes with separate broadcast teams.
Two other recent developments that illustrate ESPN's attempt to "synergize" both platforms include Adrianna Monsalve of ESPN Deportes' Nación ESPN making appearances on Sportsnation, which runs on ESPN 2; and a new program in ESPN 2's afternoon lineup, Dan Le Betard Is Highly Questionable, features Le Betard and his father -- who doesn't speak a word of English -- debating sports. Keller said that show "indexes as the highest show on ESPN for Hispanics."
Knowing that soccer is the culture's most popular sport, Keller made sure to say that while ESPN is expanding its reach, it still understands what most Hispanics prefer. The network's World Cup coverage saw 36% growth among Hispanics between 2006 and 2010, compared to only about 25% for non-Hispanics. During its recent broadcast of the exhibition match between the U.S. and Mexican national teams, ESPN 2 featured a Hispanic commentator on their English-speaking broadcast team.
Keller ended the discussion by saying that with all the different channels out there, "regardless of language, the number of signs you have out there pointing to where to find your content is absolutely critical.
"Programming doesn't know a language," Keller said. "It's about the content."