Panel: Get More Multicultural

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New York -- While the cable industry has taken some steps with multicultural marketing, more strides need to be made to effectively bridge the gap to still-underserved communities.

That was the takeaway from a panel discussion at Horowitz Associates Inc.’s fourth-annual Forum on the State of Cable and Broadband, held here Tuesday morning.

Executives charged with touching multicultural communities for both Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. said that with Mexicans representing 65% of Hispanics in the United States, targeting those viewers makes the most sense from financial and viewership perspectives.

"This group is the initial source of audience. That translates into results and credibility with senior management. You can get the quickest results there and then go for more services later," said Cesar Cruz, director of multicultural marketing at Cox.

Cruz added that Cox was readying a heightened promotional push to reach this marketplace, and it would "probably" invest more on a percentage basis in pursuing these customers than the general U.S. marketplace.

Comcast senior director of multicultural marketing Mauro Panzera said his MSO has targeted the Hispanic market with a basic genre package covering sports, news, movies and kids’ fare, then allowed systems to supplement those offers with other programming services.

"West of Chicago, that has skewed more Mexican, while from Boston through Miami, that has been with more Caribbean and South American" product, he added.

Mauro also mentioned that Comcast was open to video-on-demand and subscription-VOD ethnic offerings. "Those are great platforms to cover the prisms of multiethnicity," he said.

Lynette Pinto, vice president of marketing at NBC Cable Networks, would also make Hispanic VOD available.

Similarly, Jim Honiotes, VP of marketing and communications at International Channel Networks, said the programmer is poised to bolster its current VOD offerings. "This is going to become an even more important part of our future, serving audiences beyond introductory programming," he added.

Michael Lewellen, VP of corporate communication at Black Entertainment Television, said the African-American-targeted service was still weighing its options in this space. "Potentially, there may be some viewer interest around our specials and concerts," he added.

Reaching out to more Hispanic, African-American and Asian homes makes lot of business sense because the targets are going to become even more considerable in the years ahead.

Citing Census Bureau data released last week, Horowitz, the Larchmont, N.Y.-based research and consulting firm, reported that by 2050, non-Hispanic whites would only constitute 50.1% of this nation’s population, versus 69.4% in 2000.

Conversely, the Hispanic populous is expected to mushroom by 188% to 102.6 million from 35.6 million, to account for 24.4% of the U.S. population, compared with 12.6%.

The ranks of African-Americans will swell 71% to 61.4 million from 35.8 million, increasing this group’s share to 14.6% from 12.7%.

For its part, the Asian population in this country is expected to leap 213% to 33.4 million in 2050 from 10.7 million, with their share more than doubling to 8%.

In short, minorities are poised to become the majority.

Elsewhere, Horowitz’s "State of Broadband Urban Markets V" study data, released at the forum, examined favorite channels among whites, African Americans, Hispanics and Asians and found vast differences in viewer preferences.

Among whites, NBC (15% of respondents), ABC (12%), CBS (12%) and Fox (10%) held four of the top six spots, with Discovery Channel (12%) and The History Channel (11%) in between.

For African Americans, Home Box Office (13%) led the way, followed by Lifetime Television (12%), BET (11%), NBC and ABC (9% apiece) and ESPN (8%).

Asians also preferred broadcast networks, with NBC (17%), ABC (16%), Fox (14%) and CBS (12%) grabbing the top four spots. Discovery (10%), HBO and PBS (9% each) were next.

Horowitz director of marketing Adriana Waterston suggested that part of the Asian channel-set preferences reflected the relative lack of programming produced for those groups.

There were also significant swings in preference among Spanish-dominant and English-oriented Latino households, according to the Horowitz study.

Univision (30%) and Telemundo (19%) were the choices of nearly 50% of Spanish-dominant households, but they did not show among the leaders in Hispanic homes where more English is spoken. There, HBO (15%) and NBC (12%) ranked first and second, respectively.

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