Panelists: Plenty of Demand, Little Space for Spanish Networks

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New York – While cable operators are attracting more and more Hispanic subscribers, Spanish-language TV networks shouldn’t expect slots on basic cable, or even digital basic, some distributors said here Wednesday at a Hispanic Summit panel session hosted by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.

Cablevision director of international strategy and product management James Moore said a new Spanish-language network would have the best chance of landing cable distribution by agreeing to either video-on-demand distribution or a spot on a premium Spanish-language tier.

“When you’re dealing with niche programming, it’s hard to get that programming into the mainstream,” Moore said, explaining that Spanish-language networks are competing for distribution from major HDTV program suppliers such as Discovery Networks and other networks that appeal to both English and non-English speakers.

Some other executives said that FCC rules that will force cable operators to carry the every digital signal of local broadcasters will make it even more difficult for Spanish-language networks to obtain wide distribution.

“If they [cable operators] are forced to carry all of the signals, what will happen to capacity in the cable world and the satellite world?” questioned Jorge Fiterre, a partner at Spanish-language TV programming distributor Condista.

Hispanics represent a large portion of digital cable customers, other panelists said.

Horowitz Associates vice president of marketing and business development Adriana Waterston said the firm has found that Spanish-speaking homes have a multichannel penetration rate (including cable and satellite) of 71%.

English-only homes have a 82% multichannel penetration rate, while bilingual homes have a 83% multichannel penetration rate, Waterston said.

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