Hispanic Television Summit: Time Warner Cable Has Latino Market Dreams


New York--Time Warner Cable programming chief Melinda Witmer called the U.S. Hispanic market a cable company’s dream, while offering some insights on how networks that have yet to gain carriage with the distributor can fulfill those aspirations.

Witmer, during her Wednesday afternoon keynote address at the sixth annual Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News Hispanic Television Summit here, listed an array of attributes that make U.S. Latinos a particularly attractive subscriber target. Indeed, Time Warner Cable's footprint passes 47% of the nation’s U.S. Latino households, including the top two markets of Los Angeles and New York and five of the top 10, according to Witmer.

Time Warner Cable’s executive vice president and chief programming officer said significant opportunities exist with this group, not only pointing to the census information indicating that Latinos represent 15% of the nation’s population en route to a projected 24% in the decades ahead, but that families were younger, larger and more multigenerational than the general market.

Moreover, Hispanic-Americans, Witmer said, overindex on entertainment consumption, are voracious online users and social networkers, and have interest in product bundles..

For these and other reasons, Witmer said this group “for a cable company is a dream audience,” albeit one that is challenging given its ethnic and geographic diversity. As such, Time Warner recognizes that it must proffer different packages to various markets.

“We’re going to need your help,” she said to the network executives in attendance at the New York Hilton, emphasizing that it’s “not enough to just deliver soccer to this audience.”

In Los Angeles, for instance, Time Warner Cable is offering International OnePrice calling plan option for $19.95 for 1000 minutes to over 100 countries, including many in Latin America that Witmer said is “gaining some traction.” The operator earlier this year began selling El Paquetazo, a package that includes some 50 Spanish-language networks, and “we’re looking for more,.” she said.

What is the operator looking for?

As is the case with general-market services, Witmer said we’re looking for a “price/value relationship.”

Citing the company’s services like Start Over, Look Back, video on demand and online offerings, Time Warner wants network content so it can reach subscribers “any time on any device.” That way, the operator can provide potential customers with an “experience that will give them a reason to go to Time Warner.” In a question-and-answer period after her keynote, Witmer said the operator was looking to expand its Spanish-language VOD offerings and use this in conjunction with online offerings as “a good reason for customers to buy cable with us.”   

Witmer closed her remarks by saying she hoped Hispanic community is as “optimistic about future opportunities as I am.”

Some of the Q&A wasn’t quite as sanguine. Witmer, who had opened her address by mentioning the declining stock market, bailout program and foreclosures and that the conference was affording her a chance to step out of the frying pan of retransmission consent, was back on that burner.

Pali Research analyst Rich Greenfield asked where the U.S. Spanish-language media leader fit in with Time Warner Cable and how retransmission-consent negotiations would play out over the next three months. Witmer called Univision the dominant Hispanic player and that she hopes the companies will continue to work together to "expand this audience." She noted that retransmission-consent would play "itself out over the next year.”

Witmer also sidestepped a query by an MCN reporter about whether Univision is seeking a $1 monthly subscriber fee, by saying Time Warner couldn’t comment about ongoing negotiations. 

For more coverage from the Hispanic Television Summit, click here.