America's population aged 12 to 24 — "Generation Y" in some quarters — is getting more multicultural, digital and convergence-friendly by the day.
Cable must win over Generation Y in a big way in order to maintain a competitive advantage over direct-broadcast satellite.
That was a key conclusion of Horowitz Associates Inc.'s latest State of Cable and Broadband
report, released here during a forum to trumpet its findings.
More than 45 million people 24 or younger are African-American, Latino, Asian or part of another ethnic group, according to U.S. census data.
Four out of five multicultural citizens surveyed in Horowitz's report subscribe to either cable or DBS, while one out of five own five or more TV sets in their home or apartment.
Among African-American and Latino youth surveyed, cable is the preferred source of digital-delivered networks.
Digital-cable penetration among African-Americans and Latinos stands at 36% and 24%, respectively, compared with 12% and 14% for DBS.
The picture is different among Asian survey participants: DBS penetration is 20%, double that of digital cable.
And 39% of multicultural youth surveyed by Horowitz have high-speed Internet access through a cable or DSL modem.
Multicultural youth represents "the verge of a new digital environment with big opportunities for all of you," said Adriana Waterson, marketing director at Horowitz. That is, if cable can satisfy their growing desire for services that exploit advanced digital functionality, whether those services are on-demand and interactive, or originate from digital video recorders. And satisfy those needs before DBS does, she said.
"They're empowered by technology, not afraid of it." Waterson said. "They really need you to be tuned into them."
Added Horowitz Associates president Howard Horowitz: "We'd all be better off looking at [DVRs] as a creative challenge for better programming, rather than as an end to life as we know it."
About 600 individuals aged 12 to 24 participated in the Horowitz study; two-thirds of the sample resided in urban areas.
Growing deployment of Latino digital tiers and other ethnic channels indicates cable operators are headed in the right direction, NBC Cable president David Zaslav said at the May 1 forum. "They want to have the specialty service conversation before they want to talk about MTV 2, 3, 4, and 5," he said.
In order to cultivate more ethnic customers, Zaslav opined, untraditional market tactics are culled for, reaching out to where they congregate, shop and worship.