Hispanic TV: More Than Language


New York— Reaching U.S. Latinos through television and marketing is no easy feat. Kicking off the Fourth Annual Hispanic Television Summit here, keynote speaker Arturo Villar, publisher of Hispanic Market Weekly, told more than 250 attendees that it takes a variety of components to meet the diverse needs of this burgeoning marketplace.

“It's not only going to be Spanish-language: It's going to be Hispanic,” Villar told those gathered at the Copacabana here for the summit, presented by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable. The identity difference is found in the fact that 50% of Hispanics are non-Spanish-language-oriented, which includes English-only, English-dominant and bilingual Hispanics.

Villar said once the real identity of this diverse ethnic group was recognized, distribution, content and advertising opportunities would emerge more clearly.

Another keynote speaker, Time Warner Cable senior vice president and chief business-affairs officer Lynne Costantini, echoed those sentiments, describing the challenges brought about by cable-operator consolidation, ad agencies grappling with a more-diverse audience, demographic shifts toward bilingualism and biculturalism and rapid technology growth.

Stressing “relevance,” Costantini suggested that cross-cultural programming was key — not only pushing telenovelas, but also off-network syndicated fare that could resonate with Hispanic audiences, such as The Simpsons and reality programming such as American Idol.

She cited successes in San Antonio, where Time Warner Cable has bilingual programming, Latino TV personalities, Spanish-speaking staff and Spanish-language on-demand fare, as well as incentives geared toward Hispanic subscribers.

Proffering a wide programming swath is critical to reach today's U.S. Latinos. “It's going to take a lot of different elements to reach the Hispanic market completely,” Veronica Payán González, managing partner, D Exposito & Partners, said during the session titled “Generating Revenues with Advertising.”

“When you look at the mix of TV, it's going to have some drama, some humor, things that make you laugh and make you cry. It's going to be in English, it's going to be in Spanish, it's going to be in Spanglish. We are a complex people … even more segmented than our general-market counterparts.”

But Court Stroud, executive vice president and sales manager at Azteca America; saw it differently. He said that despite the fact that 50% of Hispanics were English-dominant or bilingual, 75% of the impressions during primetime Monday through Friday from the first two weeks of October were in Spanish. “Today, Spanish is the vehicle of choice for people trying to reach Hispanic viewers,” he added.