Multiple Platforms, Multiple Viewpoints


New York -- A panel discussion titled “Generating Revenues Through Distribution and Syndication” at the Fourth Annual Hispanic Television Summit 2006 here focused on Spanish-language programming on a range of platforms.

Luis Clemens, Multichannel News’ Hispanic special reports editor, moderated, with insights from Bill Binford, director of programming at Verizon FiOS TV; Randy Nonberg, president of Una Vez Mas; Jorge Tanaka, business director of U.S. operations at VideoRola; and Fernando Espuelas, chairman of VOY.

Clemens kicked off the discussion by sharing how he couldn’t find a single Spanish-language channel on the TV upon landing in his hotel room.

As the conversation turned to Hispanic tiers, Binford broke out a prop -- a piñata, in fact -- to illustrate the emergence of the market. He mentioned how Microsoft backed children’s program Viva Pinata, as the tech giant was eager to sell X-Boxes to Hispanic children. Binford saw it as validation for the Hispanic market.

Espuelas, for his part, took serious umbrage with the concept of a dedicated tier, believing that Hispanic programming deserved a place in the mainstream mix. “Hispanic tiers are literally a ghetto,” he said. “[The concept] is absurd and insulting … You wouldn’t market Hispanic chewing gum to Hispanics.”

The panelists agreed that the power has shifted from programmers to viewers, who increasingly decide what, when and how they consume content. Tanaka said he could envision a day when cell-phone video consumption rivals or even surpasses cable and satellite, although it was a few years off.

Espuelas stated that younger viewers hardly differentiate between the modes of delivery, mentioning how Webisodes of Battlestar Galactica tallied five times more viewers than the cable program. “I don’t know how relevant platforms are to young consumers. Is Desperate Housewives really part of ABC?” he said, as opposed to simply being part of the Web-video landscape.

Nonberg sounded a note for traditional media. “We’ll wait for the picture to be clearer before we invest in some of these new technologies,” he said. “We’re not going to be the sacrificial lambs.”

The panelists agreed that social networking -- the concept behind sites like YouTube and MySpace -- will continue to play a major role in media consumption. Binford cited their “organic marketing” and wondered how that notion might increase viewing for FiOS customers. Espuelas spoke of the camaraderie YouTube engenders, saying, “Watching a YouTube video is fun, but sharing it with friends is a social experience.”