Monday, February 10, 2014

Television for U.S. Latinos (Part 1– What Is Out There?)

By A.B. Lugo.

This is the first part of a two-part series studying the current batch of television networks being marketed to U.S.-born and/or -raised Latinos (usually English-dominant people aged 18-34, the younger portion of which have been called "millennials" for coming of age around the year 2000).  

In a perfect world, Latinos/Hispanics would be accurately represented in numbers and images in all of television regardless of whether it is "ethnically oriented". But that day is not today. In the meantime, this blog examines the current state of content creation (television/online) and the current options for English-language and/or -dominant television marketed to U.S. Latinos. 

With the termination of the online outpost NBC Latino by its parent company NBC and the cancellation of CNN Latino by its parent company CNNE, both happening a little more than a year after their respective debuts, it had me thinking about the future of content created specifically for U.S. Latinos.

I can imagine the conundrum of content creators and what they are asking themselves. What exactly is a U.S. Latino (as opposed to a Latin American) and how do we market to him/her? What if our content or programming is too Mexican-heavy– will we lose the East Coast? What if our content is too Caribbean-based– will we lose the entire Southwest? Should we do all Spanish language programming? All English language programming? Do we dare try using both languages... sometimes even at the same time?

Currently, African Americans have BET Networks (which includes Black Entertainment Television, Centric, BET Gospel, BET Hip-Hop and BET International), plus TV One, Aspire, Bounce TV and Revolt (I know, I haven't heard of some of them either). People in the LGBTQ community in the United States have Logo and Here TV. And with the rise in population of U.S. Latinos, it makes sense from a business standpoint to create a network to cater to U.S. Latinos.

So what is out there currently for (English-speaking, English-dominant, or bilingual) U.S. Latinos to watch on TV? (Note that the below list does not refer to networks that do all of their programming in Spanish, such as Telemundo, Univision, Galavisión, uniMÁS, MundoFox, HITN, V-me, Azteca América, Estrella TV, etc.)

• Founded as GEMS Television by Columbia Pictures Television in 1993
• Became mun2 in 2001 after being bought by Telemundo
• Owned by NBCUniversal/Comcast 
• Programming consists of music and sports programming with (sometime subtitled) content from NBC cable networks
• Content originally in English and Spanish (sometimes at the same time); recently converted to all-Spanish programming
• Currently airing in about 40 million homes

• Founded as Sí TV in 2004
• Arose out of the Sí TV production company created by Jeff Valdez and Bruce Barshop, who created the Nickelodeon series "The Brothers García" (the first English-language sitcom with an all-Latino cast and creative team)
• Became NuvoTV in 2011 (the name came from "NUevo VOice" as a way to represent the bicultural, often bilingual audience it aims to reach)
• Entered into a partnership with Latina superstar Jennifer López in 2012, whereupon in 2013 she became the network's Chief Creative Officer
• Content is mostly (if not all) in English
• Currently airing in about 33 million homes

• Founded in 2013
• Created by Disney/ABC and Univision
• Content features news, lifestyle, pop culture, satire and entertainment aimed at English-speaking U.S. viewers, including those of a Hispanic background
• Originally marketed to U.S. Latinos, it later expanded its breadth to younger U.S. viewers known as "millennials" 
• Content is in English
• Currently airing in about 20 million homes, with plans to expand to 50 million homes by 2018

El Rey
• Founded in 2013
• Run by filmmaker Robert Rodríguez and FactoryMade Ventures (John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa)
• Created after Comcast agreed to create a number of minority-owned networks as a condition of becoming a minority owner of NBCUniversal (Aspire and Revolt are two other networks created as a result of this deal)
• Univision later made an investment with the network
• Content features reality and scripted programming, animated series, movies, documentaries, news, music, comedy and sports
• Content is in English and targeted toward second- and third-generation Latinos who are often bilingual but speak English as their primary language
• Currently airing in about 40 million homes

Important to note above is the number of households. More than 30 million households is key; that is the threshold figure that would make a network eligible to be rated by Nielsen and would therefore be of more interest to advertisers. 

In the second part of this blog, suggestions on how to successful market your network to U.S. Latinos.

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