New York -- As programmers look for more ways to reach the Hispanic audience, the focus has shifted away from language.
"Language causes a lot of confusion in our space and restriction," said Antonio Ruiz, partner/communications planning, The Vidal Partnership."The expertise necessary goes way beyond just delivering something in a language."
That was the main takeaway from the programming roundtable during B&C/Multichannel News' 10th Annual Hispanic Television Summit here Wednesday.
Pablo Alsina, Fox Deportes' host and play-by-play announcer for college football and UFC, said that ideal is especially true in the world of sports. "Basically, the Hispanic consumer is just a consumer -- and what do consumers want?" he asked. "They want the biggest brands and the best events."
Alsina argued that there are many Hispanic-Americans who grew up with non-Spanish sports such as college football and UFC, which he said is one of the most popular sports among Latinos. He explained that an athlete such as Lionel Messi is popular "not because he's Argentinean or he speaks Spanish" but because he's one of the best soccer players in the world.
"It's still our brands; it's still our sports for Latinos, even if they no longer speak Spanish," said Alsina.
That sentiment was shared by Jorge Tanaka, general manager, Video Rola, who argued it's more important to cater to similar interests than the same language. "I think the key part of this is to find things in common."
Aside from finding common interests, Ruiz argued that, even more than English consumers, Hispanics crave a multiplatform approach. "Hispanics are the most aggressive adaptors of new technology," said Ruiz. "Consumption of content outside of the traditional television screen is significant."
"The Latino viewers have so many options and we need to be able to touch them and impact them," added Alex Corral, director of business and branded development, Shine America. Corral said that Shine looks to create programs that are multiplatform and offer social media engagement.
Josephine Guzmán, director, community outreach, The Mount Sinai Hospital, who recently began airing a health and wellness series on Univision, says that they too have seen a growth outside traditional media. "We've seen that while the viewership has been in the thousands, the online seeking of information, the telephone contacts as well has been increasing week by week," she added.
However, contrary to the other panelists, Guzmán said that in terms of health and wellness, language still matters. "What we have found in our experience as that Latinos are more comfortable speaking about health in Spanish."
"That's what this game is about, is how to deliver -- whether its entertainment or information -- to consumers in a context that can optimize relevancy," said Ruiz.